For the first time in nearly a decade, the Brookfield Public Works Department will be looking to hire a second non-union supervisor to assist Director Carl Muell and oversee maintenance of village facilities – from village hall to the fire stations to the recreation department’s two preschool buildings.
Village trustees at their next meeting on April 11 are expected to vote to approve creating a public works superintendent job and amend the 2022 appropriations ordinance to account for the new, previously unbudgeted expense.
“Once the job is approved, we’ll come up with a job description and post it as soon as possible,” Muell told the Landmark, adding that the hope was to have a superintendent on board by mid-summer.
The superintendent, who will report directly to Muell will add another non-union supervisory layer to the organizational chart. That person will be paid between $84,615 and $110,000 per year, according to a memo from Village Manager Timothy Wiberg included in the village board’s March 28 committee of the whole meeting packet.
Muell and an administrative assistant are the only non-union public works employees. The other 17 employees in the department are represented by Teamster’s Union Local 705.
In pitching the new position to the village board on March 28, Wiberg said having just one non-union public works supervisor in a village the size of Brookfield was unusual.
“We looked into other comparable communities to Brookfield and found that the norm is to have a little bit more of a hierarchical organization with a little more supervisory assistance over the union laborers,” Wiberg said. “
In addition to helping the public works director oversee the operations of the department, the superintendent would also take on management of village facilities.
“There is no dedicated person whose main responsibility is to oversee the facilities,” Wiberg said.
Presently the person who oversees facilities is the public works foreman who heads up the streets and alleys division. According to Wiberg, it’s a lot to ask the foreman to manage at certain times of the year.
“It’s a tall task, especially in the wintertime when there’s snow on the ground to expect that the person to oversee the removal of snow and ice on the streets and at the same time ensure our facilities are being adequately cared for,” Wiberg said.
No trustees argued against creating the new supervisory position in public works, with Trustee Brian Conroy suggesting that perhaps the superintendent might be able to apply for grants to maintain and improve village facilities in the future.
Village President Michael Garvey also expressed support for the new position.
“I think the facilities is the number one thing,” Garvey said. “It’s not just the day-to-day maintenance, it’s the long-term maintenance, long-term planning, long-term improvements.
“I think it’s a good idea and it’s time for it.”
Supervisory roles in Brookfield’s public works department have evolved through time. The village didn’t have a single public works director until 2001, when William Brandt was appointed to the job.
Starting in 2007, the director was supported by a superintendent. But just two years later in a cost-cutting move, the village eliminated the public works director position, leaving the superintendent as the only supervisor, who reported directly to the assistant village manager.
By 2012, the village created a non-union assistant superintendent position to support the superintendent, whose title was changed back to director around that same time. However, the assistant superintendent position was short-lived and the director has been the sole department supervisor since at least mid-2014.