Port Orange City Council Warned That Brain Drain Was Coming Quickly

Response to recent posts
brainDrainThese comments are based on my 36 years of experience as a Port Orange Public Utilities employee, my knowledge of all of the utilities systems, budgeting, capital projects and department personnel.
In some areas the department is lacking in long time experienced employees with a high degree of institutional knowledge of our systems. The former assistant department head warned council that brain drain was coming quickly. The main break during Bike Week is an example of what results from this.
Let’s face it the Utilities department head is not very experienced, especially in a system of our size. There are two or three people in the administration division that that he relies on that have been there for years but never really excelled in their field rather they kept or advanced their careers by proper positioning of their noses. At this time in my opinion there is one person left in management that has credibility and he is in middle management as a division head. There is some real talent in water operations and the maintenance divisions with the experience and institutional knowledge. There are a few left in other divisions. We have an aging staff that are all close to retirement. Someone needs to do something soon or we will have a bunch of rookies operating and maintaining our utilities. We are halfway there!
I don’t go to council meetings. I watch them on POG-TV. I was exasperated by the whole water rate and 57 million $ infrastructure proposal. Maybe they did pick the $ amount off of a pear tree. Having worked on the utilities capital improvement budget for over 30 years I think that a rate increase may be needed. My problems with the capital improvement budget has been the amount of available funds that are spent on legitimate projects and prioritization of projects.The desk jockeys make the final decisions in these areas leaving field personnel scratching their heads wondering why the most obvious and most needed work does not get done. They get stuck putting band aids on major problems to keep them functioning. For the most part I don’t blame council. They only know what management feeds them.
I heard the term value engineering…really? really? I don’t know who they have left there that could comprise a value engineering team. I heard staff recommends. That means this is what the manager told us to say. We have some major problems in some of our sewer systems in the older sections of town that have needed work for years. We also have problems with the water distribution system in the older sections. The plants are in good shape due to a good R&R schedule in the CIP budget thanks to the division heads and personnel in operations and maintenance.
I have a hard time with management throwing those numbers out there without any real detailed documentation or evidence to show what work needs to be done, explaining the cost. I would not even consider this request without complete information to base a decision on. They also need to follow up and make sure if authorized that the money goes exactly where it is designated to go. There was a place that those of us that worked on the budget always called the black hole where $$$ seemed to disappear.
Maybe we should commission a study or audit or report on what I have written here to see if it makes sense or has any validity. It should take six months.
See Ya..

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