Town debates utility of hiring a public works multitasker

By Craig Westcott / July 28, 2023

The Town of Bay Roberts may soon be looking for someone who can serve as both an electrician and a sewer station operator.

Public Works Director Sean Elms proposed the creation of the split position during his report to council last week.

Elms said Town staff have been doing a lot of the work at the sewerage lift stations, but bills are starting to show up for electrical work as some of those duties have had to be farmed out.

Elms suggested hiring someone who can do operations and electrical work might “combat” some of the rising prices for electrical contracts.

“We need an electrician who can pull permits and work on the control panels,” Elms said.

Councillor Silas Badcock said a detailed job description should be prepared before the Town goes looking to hire someone so that it can determine the exact duties that need to be covered.

Given the amount of work required at the lift stations, Mayor Walter Yetman wondered whether a combination worker would have time to get to all the electrical work required at other Town facilities. “So, all I’m saying is, is it possible to use a staff person or two to look after just the maintenance of the lift stations and have an electrician do the lift stations and the other work needs to be done?” he asked. “Because there is a lot of (electrical) work that needs to be done.”

Chief Administrative Officer Nigel Black noted that money was earmarked in the current year’s budget to cover another salary. Much of that money is now being spent on contractors, he noted.

“My recommendation to you at this stage is really there are some HR questions that you have to talk about and decide what you want in the job description like councillor Badcock said,” Black added. “So, we could probably have a report to you at the next council meeting to decide what you want to do with it and then hopefully post a position from there.”

Councillor Frank Deering said the Town should explore the possibility of sharing a worker with neighbouring municipalities, as a program for just that was recently announced by one of the senior levels of government.

“That’s not a bad idea,” said Black. “The funding source is there. Whether or not there’s an appetite to do it with other communities, we’d have to check into that as well.”

With that, Mayor Yetman called for a motion for staff to check into the funding program and start work on refining the job description. It was moved by councillor Dean Franey, seconded by councillor Ross Petten, and passed unanimously.

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