Peterson evaluation complete
Utility commission members will meet next week
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 6:00 PM
MARINETTE - With Tim Peterson's first evaluation in eight years finally completed, the Water and Wastewater Utility Commissions members will have their chance to ask questions and express their concerns about the Water Utility administrator's job performance at the next commissions meeting on Monday.
"You have to remember that he hasn't had an evaluation done since 2005, but that isn't unusual because none of the department heads had evaluations done during those years," said Jeff Zeratsky, chairman of the Water and Wastewater Utility Commissions.
Zeratsky added that even with the current debt situation, plus the budget and overtime issues, Peterson has done good things with the utility.
"He got an $18 million plant up and running without a hitch and came in on budget with grants," Zeratsky said.
Peterson, via e-mail, said he was proud of multiple projects he has completed in his time at the Water Utility, including replacing the West Cleveland Avenue water tower and a complete meter changeover - which was more efficient for utility workers and provides more accurate information than the old meter system.
Even so, Zeratsky said he and commission member Steve Genisot expressed their concerns on the overtime and budget issues during the evaluation.
"I listened to the concerns expressed by Mr. Zeratsky, and Mr. Genisot, and we discussed those issues," Peterson said. "I have a great deal of respect for most of those on the commission, and I will do my best to do the job they want me to do."
During Monday's meeting, the commissions members will go into a closed session in order to express any questions or concerns about Peterson's evaluation, according to Zeratsky.
He also said the first committee meeting to deal with overtime issues went well.
Peterson agreed, saying, "Input is always useful. If we get together for open discussion, with an open mind - and no preconceived notions about any situation - there will be no waste of anybody's time."
Zeratsky, Peterson, Genisot and Ken Keller attended the meeting to investigate the causes of overtime and to come up with ideas of how to curb the amount of overtime.
"We had to identify where the overtime was coming from and also why there was so much," Zeratsky said. "Some of the issues, some of the things we discovered were from the period of time when there was a lot of construction going on. There were projects that had to be watched over."
These projects included street repairs and reconstruction, during which a utility worker had to be present; and the cross connection project dictated by the state of Wisconsin.
Other factors to the amount of overtime were training and another employee who spent 20 hours each week in the office to coordinate work orders, in addition to their normal 40-hour workload.
Zeratsky said they will be looking at contracting projects in the future to see if it would be cheaper than giving their employees overtime pay to finish the job.
According to Peterson, while there will always be some overtime for utility employees, most has ceased since Friday.
Zeratsky said the Water and Wastewater Utility Commissions members have been working hard to solve the issues of overtime, budget and the $1.5 million debt to the city.
"We're not trying to make any excuses," he said. "The fact that there was no budget ... there is no good excuse for that. And the amount of overtime, we should have been paying closer attention to that."
He added that there are things the members are doing differently since the public became aware of these issues.
"We're keeping a much closer eye on the overtime, and we're making sure we have a budget and we're going to stick to that budget and make sure it's talked about every meeting," he said.