BELLE — With the resignation of former public works director Jason Lewis on Oct. 13, the city of Belle was left without a certified operator and has been working to fill the gap by certifying …
BELLE — With the resignation of former public works director Jason Lewis on Oct. 13, the city of Belle was left without a certified operator and has been working to fill the gap by certifying employees in water/wastewater requirements through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
On Oct. 25 Mayor Daryl White, Jr., who has been acting director in the absence of a board-appointed operations manager, informed the board that several city employees were sent to classes to fill the gaps in certifications.
“Under training and duties for public works, we are back to a three man crew, but we are also starting the wet and rainy season,” White began. “When Darin (Guinn) and Clay (Ridenhour) signed up to take their classes starting in November, Sherree (Burkholder, court clerk) is in her third week of classes now. We have to get somebody with a DS2 rating in and wastewater pretty quick for the water distribution and stuff. I have talked to DNR about that and we have somewhat of a plan in place.”
Burkholder has since completed the certification courses and will need to pass the course test to become certified.
In addition to public works department responsibilities, White told the board that he would like to see the public works crew utilize their skills to save the department in maintenance costs.
“I would like to add some duties to our public works,” White said. “The guys we have now, they all have their areas of specialties as far as machinery, operating and stuff and they also all three have been mechanics in the past. Two of the three have worked full-time mechanics for years. I would like to see us start our own in-house maintenance and stuff and cut our budget a little bit on that, put a service plan together for all of our equipment. I’ve been talking to them about it the last few days, and they started today with the our winter equipment and snow plows.”
White said he would like to see the group put together a maintenance schedule for the equipment, including police cars, excavator, and potential dump trucks.
“Maintenance is the key to everything and that is some stuff I would like to add to their duties if nobody has any objections,” White said. “I have been trying to think of ways to help bring our budget together so we can support some more stuff and I think that would help us.”
White said they aren’t spending a whole lot on maintenance right now, but he thinks it would be helpful to do the current work in house. He said “it is nothing against the local shops” that currently do the maintenance work for the city, he would just like to see more done in-house.
“There are some other job descriptions I would like to sit down with everybody and add some duties,” White said.
Alderman James (Pudd) Mitchell said an oil change might cost $60 at shop. If they purchased their own materials, and what they pay the public works employees, they may be able to come out ahead. They could do maintenance on rainy days.
Newly appointed Alderman Emily Williams said she liked the idea and said the timing made sense.
“Didn’t there used to be a list at the shop over there what they did and when they did it,” Alderman Adam Padgett said.
The board agreed that there is a tablet that keeps track of maintenance.
“Maybe the next weather day that we can slip off and go to surplus we could get some wrenches and tools and stuff to build our stuff up and it wouldn’t cost us hardly anything,” White said. “We can start a list of what we need.”
Mitchell asked if the state surplus had tire machines, and White said, “You never know what they will have.”
“Well, if they did we could buy our tires and mount and balance them our self,” Mitchell said. “Not trying to take business away from anybody.”
White agreed, but added that they are the custodians of the budget and if they can save anything then they should.
“I don’t think we was elected to save our budget, I believe we was elected to get the most we can get out of our budget,” White said.
Howarth asked if they needed a vote and White said he didn’t think so, the public works were already on board.
“They are fine with it,” White said. “That is just something we can work on, that way these guys know when they go off duty at 4 a.m., they can leave a note they have a headlight out taillight out that can be fixed when they come back on duty. It could be something as simple as ‘we had a drug bust last night and are running way behind, could you fuel our car?’ Every department needs to work together.”
No action was taken in the Oct. 25 meeting. However, the topic was revisited during the Nov. 8 meeting and aldermen voted 4-0 to approve the changes.