EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 8, 2008

DPW reorganization would trim budget $400K Mayor's plan cuts jobs, adds seasonal workers

HAVERHILL - For years, people have been saying the city lacked enough public works employees to serve Haverhill's growing population and maintain its 35 square miles, Mayor James Fiorentini said.

Turns out they were wrong, he said. There were enough workers - they just haven't been used properly or efficiently, according to a new report by the company that is advising the mayor in his efforts to reorganize several city divisions into a new Department of Public Works.

"They said we have too many workers and that we are too top-heavy," Fiorentini said of the report from California-based Matrix Consulting in the wake of the Highway Department scandal that resulted in criminal charges against James Flaherty and Kevin Flaherty.

"They said we could eliminate several positions and be just as effective by using seasonal help, which we have already started to do and are going to be doing more," Fiorentini said.

The mayor's plan, which would merge the departments of Highway, Parks, Water and Wastewater, Engineering and Recycling under a Public Works director, includes eliminating two supervisory positions, two laborer positions and a maintenance worker. He also proposes cutting overtime spending by $38,000. The full plan will save the city almost $400,000 a year, the mayor said.

Details about the money-saving plan come as the mayor is forecasting a $5.8 million budget shortfall for the fiscal year that starts in July. Other departments are expected to face deep spending cuts in the coming months, Fiorentini has said.

The mayor's DPW plan includes hiring several seasonal workers at an overall cost of $30,000 annually. The temporary workers would be used from May to October and perform such jobs as patching roads, cleaning parks and trimming trees and bushes, the mayor said.

The plan to merge the departments requires the approval of the City Council, which is expected to take up the proposal later this month, Fiorentini said.

Last week, the mayor hired Michael Stankovich to head the new DPW at an annual salary of $110,000. Stankovich, 51, who has been North Attleborough's DPW director for the past nine years, will take over here Feb. 4.

Stankovich's experience with similar situations - he took the North Attleborough job in the midst of a scandal involving the DPW director - and in running various public works divisions in four states set him apart from more than 20 candidates for the city's DPW director's position, Fiorentini said.

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