Des Moines City Council adds four new utility staffers at Thursday night meeting
by Jack Mayne
Four new employees were approved by the Des Moines City Council because virtually all of the Des Moines Building division staff would be retiring in the next five years.
New people must be brought in not only to bolster the department but also to get the experience needed to take over the department in the future, Councilmembers said
Councilmember Bob Sheckler moved to authorize an additional four full-time staff be added, a motion that passed unanimously.
Sheckler told the Waterland Blog on Friday that the department is “very cyclical” because during some periods staff in that department is laid off, only to be needed a year or so later to carry on the duties of the complex department.
“Succession planning is a very good idea,” said Councilmember Vic Pennington at the Council meeting Thursday (July 9).
Councilmember Jeremy Nutting told the Council he believes the addition is “the right move … we want builders here in Des Moines.”
The money for the four positions will be partly paid for by Surface Management Fund money, which legally cannot be used for general city expenses, and partly from city development and building fee revenue, City Manager Tony Piasecki told the Waterland Blog on Friday.
No money for police
The Waterland Blog received an unsigned email prior to the Thursday night session that criticized the addition in public works and surface water management rather than add a previously authorized four additional city police officers.
The email said the person had been told by “a couple of Des Moines officers” that “the police department has not ever been authorized to hire the four officers to bolster the strength of the department that we were told would happen last year and as I understand were also budgeted for. The officers told me they believe the reason the police department hasn’t been allowed to hire is due to lack of funding.
“It certainly seems like to me if the Council passes this item tonight they have their priorities very messed up and truly have no understanding for the needs of our community.”
Piasecki said Friday the officer had been authorized in the budget but that he had informed the Council that projected city income for 2016 might very well be insufficient to continue paying additional police officer next year. The city income problems may begin to get better in 2017 and beyond as Des Moines Business Park and Sheraton Hotel projects get completed and begin producing revenue for the city.
The city manager again emphasized that the money for the public works and surface water management workers could not legally be used to pay for police officers.