The city of Fairborn is just months away from consolidating two divisions — water/sewer and water reclamation — in a move that officials say will save the city thousands of dollars later this decade as well as create a more efficient operation for a staff of approximately 35 employees.
As a result, employees will be cross-trained, providing an opportunity to advance up the organizational chart, and oversight for Environmental Protection Agency regulations will improve, said Pete Bales, the city’s public administrative services director.
The changes are expected to happen at the beginning of 2013, and the new department will be called the water and sewer utility division.
“Not only is this the most efficient thing for us to do, it’s also cost effective for the citizens,” Bales said. “Not everything will happen at once. It’s a phased plan. Some of the changes will happen over time and also happen through attrition. The main goal is to do no harm to any existing employees.”
While no positions will be cut nor will there be any pay reductions, some jobs will be modified to add responsibilities, resulting in slight pay raises. The job losses the city is accounting for is anticipated attrition beginning in 2014.
Union president Eric Ross did not return multiple messages seeking comment.
There will be an increase of $8,300 to the budget next year, and in 2014, it jumps $24,000, largely because of the need to purchase tools and a new truck, Bales said. The city projects to see a savings in 2015 ($18,000), ‘16 ($19,000) and ‘17 ($23,000).
“It’s one of those things where you’ve got to spend a little money up front to save a lot of money later,” Bales said.
As of Aug. 31, the current operating budgets for this year were $3.2 million (water), $3.8 million (sewer) and $1.4 million (water reclamation center). Those figures do not include capital expenditures, such as construction projects and equipment, because they vary from year to year, finance director Randy Groves said.
The city hired a consultant — M-E Companies out of Columbus — in December 2011 to review the current structure and recommend alternative strategies. That cost the city $9,000.
Additionally, the city evaluated each position in the organizational chart to verify that job descriptions were up to date, Bales said.
A presentation was made to City Council in a work session last month, and council will need to sign off on items such as personnel and budget changes as the process moves forward, Bales said.
“It really gives employees the opportunity to continue to learn as much as they can and understand where they best fit,” City Manager Deborah McDonnell said. “It helps build a team, helps improve service delivery and ultimately saves money.”