Four years after its last planner slammed the door on her way out of Brookfield, the village has decided once again to fill the position as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the clerical positions in the finance, billing and building departments at village hall.
Keith Sbiral, Brookfield’s assistant village manager and director of building and planning, confirmed that he has identified a finalist for the planner position and that he expects that person to start work Aug. 4.
He declined to name the village’s choice for planner, because the village’s offer officially was still pending.
“I see the planner serving in a support role in economic development planning,” Sbiral said. “I see it as more of a true planning role for the village.”
Sbiral said that the planner would be working on a number of projects that have been already teed up, including revisions to the village storm water ordinance, a building code update and grant applications.
“There has to be support for those planning type projects,” Sbiral said.
Brookfield’s former planner, Meena Beyers, quit the post in April 2010 during a period of financial upheaval in the wake of the economic crash. Many critics questioned why Brookfield continued to employ a planner when development had all but disappeared. At the same time several clerical and public works employees were laid off, and firefighter and police layoffs were being threatened.
The criticism was so personally insulting that Beyers penned a scorching letter of resignation that ripped Brookfield as a community for having “no boundaries or respect for privacy.”
“I have never served such a disdainful and disrespectful community,” she wrote in the letter.
While subsequent Brookfield operating budgets kept the planner position in as a line item, officials decided to keep the position vacant as the village turned its financial picture around.
But times have changed in the past four years. The confrontational nature of the immediate post-crash atmosphere in Brookfield has largely subsided. And development, on Ogden Avenue in particular, has begun to accelerate. Revisions to the building code and storm water ordinances are keys to moving development along in the future.
“We’re getting some good results and this isn’t a time to slow down,” Sbiral said.
The re-introduction of the planner into the staff mix goes hand in hand with a complete overhaul of how the village hall’s clerical staff operates.
This spring, the clerical staff voted to decertify its union. Meanwhile, two senior clerical workers inside village hall decided to take early retirement, which set in motion a plan to move other employees into new roles, hire two part-time front desk clerks and begin crossing training employees.
Whereas in the past village hall employees handled the duties of one specific department, now any employee should be able to handle basic building permit questions, or accept payments for water bills and vehicle stickers.
“The front desk clerks can do all of those services,” Sbiral said. “We’re able to have a one-stop shop at the front counter.”
Sbiral also noted that the hiring of the two part-time clerks has allowed the village to once again keep the front desk open during the lunch hour.
Sbiral is also in the process of hiring a permit services coordinator for the Building and Planning Department. Applications for the job were due July 15. That employee, according to the job description posted by the village, will be responsible for reviewing permit applications for completeness, processing the permits and property maintenance complaints, including processing documentation for the village’s property maintenance adjudication process.
The job will pay about $48,000, according to the description.
That person will free up the village’s two building inspectors to focus their time more efficiently as well, said Sbiral.
“The permit services coordinator will keep those permits routing quickly,” said Sbiral. “I think there will be better responsiveness on inspections now.”