City officials will discuss the possibility of creating a new staff position today during an executive session in the chambers of City Hall.
According to members of Statesboro City Council, representatives, along with Mayor Joe Brannen and City Manager Frank Parker, will evaluate a plan to create a “construction projects director” job to manage and oversee a multitude of development projects forecasted in Statesboro’s future.
The position would be filled internally, Parker said.
“As far as construction projects go, we are going to have a good many projects going on now and in the foreseeable future. We have about $12 million worth of projects that need to be in the hopper,” Parker said. “I am working to come up with someone who is responsible for the projects. To make sure the city gets what it pays for, we need to have someone do a constant, daily inspection of projects’ progress.”
“The city has to have someone inspect every project until it is completed. Currently, everything we do undergoes inspections. I want to strengthen that inspection process and make sure jobs are being done the way they should be done,” he said. “I could either have two or three part-time folks, or one full-time person depending on what best works for the city.”
According to Parker, the idea will be discussed with councilmen in an executive session during the group’s regularly scheduled meeting today.
Word of the proposal came as a surprise to some council members, Councilman Travis Chance said.
“Honestly, I have not had any input or feedback from the city manager, and as far as I know, other members of council have not been provided with information either,” he said. “We feel like we should have at least been kept in the loop.”
“I have not heard a lot about it,” said Councilman Will Britt. “The first time I heard about it, I called Frank [Parker] and said let’s talk about it in the executive session. That’s kind of where we left it.”
Councilman Tommy Blitch said he has not been informed of the potential change either.
According to Parker, the new position is not a done-deal, and he plans to review the change with council before finalizing a decision.
“We will talk about several things in the executive session. [Creating the new position] will be one,” Parker said. “I was hired to manage the personnel of the city and I, as a courtesy to council, keep them informed of what I am doing.”
“But, managing city employees is what they hired me to do,” he said.
Councilman John Riggs said he will be interested to hear what the city manager has to say.
“I can’t comment on whether [creating the position] will be good or bad, but I will say this: Statesboro has many awesome projects coming into the city that will bring in lots of money. Having these projects managed correctly could not only save us money, but make us money,” he said. “[I’ll listen] with an open mind.”
According to council, the likely candidate to fill the position, if created, is Wayne Johnson, director of the Water/Wastewater Department for the city.
“Most of these major-dollar projects are Water/Sewer projects and someone involved will have to have an understanding of that,” Parker said.
Chance believes the same work can be completed without creating a new job title.
“I don’t think [creating a new position] is a good idea at all,” he said. “Simply put, we have had project after project, after project, in this city for years and managed.”
“[Johnson] can do the same thing in his current position and at his current pay scale that he could do in a new position with a new pay scale,” Chance said. “We have a Water/Wastewater head that is making six figures — almost double, in some cases, than in other cities our size — and an assistant making nearly $100,000 with benefits prior to a promotion into the job that would be vacated. The whole purpose in having an assistant is: if the director is too busy with projects, the assistant can step in.”
Councilmen will attend the executive session near the conclusion of their meeting.
In other business today, City Council will review motions to require less off-street parking for new developments and increase the amount of green space on future developed sites.
In the wake of Tuesday’s city election, in which referendums calling for Sunday alcohol sales passed, representatives also will consider a motion to approve the first reading of an ordinance amending the city code regarding alcoholic beverages.
Officials will review motions to award contracts for a new parking lot ($78,634.75) on E. Vine Street, behind City Campus, and a water and sewer extension for the Gateway II Industrial Park ($350,997.14).
The regular meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in City Hall’s second floor council chambers.
A work session to discuss a draft of a revised version of the city’s alcohol ordinance will precede the meeting at 5 p.m.
Council agreed in August to re-work the ordinance, which they say contained confusing, convoluted and contradictory language.
Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.