BPU seeks salary increase for replacements

EAST LIVERPOOL – With the city’s two utility superintendents set for retirement, and the search begins for their replacements, the Board of Public Utilities voted Thursday to ask City Council to consider increasing the salary for the positions.

During its regular meeting, the board said goodbye to utilities Director Bob Disch, who is retiring for the second time from the position, having resumed the post again after retiring from it previously. He has served more than 35 years with the city.

Meanwhile, water Superintendent Tim Clark told the board advertisements for the water and sewage superintendent posts over the past couple of months have not been fruitful and he believes it is due to the salary being offered.

While he and sewage Superintendent Bob Wright currently each earn $27.51 per hour, recent lower salary rates imposed by council sets the rate for new hires at $21 per hour, according to the auditor’s office.

Clark asked for permission to ask council to consider raising the salary, and board member Fred Rayl and Sara Davis agreed.

According to Clark, informal discussion with the finance committee has indicated it is not amenable to that suggestion but, he said, “When faced with not being able to run the water or sewer department, their position might change.”

Clark said there had been some hope that, in Disch’s absence, he might be able to step in and do Disch’s duties until his own retirement, but with no replacement available, he will have to continue working at the water plant.

“What’s your contingency?” Rayl asked.

“We don’t have one,” Clark admitted.

Not having a utility director in place is no violation of Environmental Protection Agency rules, whereas not having a water plant superintendent in residence is, Clark emphasized.

Disch offered his continued help after retirement, telling the board, “If you get stuck, you can call me. It’s not like I’m going to Mars.”

In business matters, the board voted to impose new limits on members of the public who speak at meetings.

Henceforth, those wishing to speak must be either a water or sewer customer of the city and will be limited to five minutes, which is basically the same restrictions placed on those speaking at council meetings.

The board also voted to approach council for legislation for bidding on painting the metal parts in the up flow clarifier at the water plant, estimated to cost about $100,000.

Council will also be asked for legislation to borrow the money, which will be repaid from the water R&I fund over five years, which Disch said is possible due to having paid off some debt at the end of 2013.

Disch reported new phones have been installed in the utilities office that will allow customers to obtain information after hours, such as payment deadlines and water service interruptions.