DANVILLE — Administrators are moving forward with plans to add another engineer to the city's current lineup of four full-time engineers and two engineering technicians.
City Engineer David Schnelle and Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said creating another engineering position is necessary to handle the additional work that will be created through pending construction projects in the next two years, including the replacement of the tunnel on Fairchild Street, which is the largest in terms of money, manpower and time.
Schnelle said the city advertised for bids for Fairchild project on Wednesday, and the bid opening will be June 11. Federal officials will have to review the bids, he said, so the project likely will not start until August.
Other upcoming projects in the next two years include sewer improvements, a shared-use path in the Lincoln Park area and another near Danville High School, and in late 2013, improvements to North Bowman Avenue and changes at the Voorhees and Jackson streets intersection.
Eight of the nine aldermen who attended Tuesday night's city council meeting gave city officials the authority to provide the additional funding for a new entry-level engineering position. Five aldermen were absent.
Alderman Rickey Williams Jr., Ward 1, was the only alderman who voted against the changes to the city's salary schedule that also included increasing the salary range of the city's mass transit director and creating a new position in public works.
Aldermen approved adding an additional $47,000 to $51,000 a year to the budget for the hiring of another engineer. Schnelle said the city should be able to attract a new engineering graduate with that annual salary.
Eisenhauer said a cost analysis showed that hiring a new full-time engineer would be cheaper than the city contracting out the additional work to an outside engineer. He said the analysis showed about $175,000 to $200,000 in savings over a two-year period by adding another full-time engineer to the staff.
City administrators distributed a two-year cost and workload analysis spreadsheet to the council that illustrates the city's case for adding another engineer. Schnelle said the department can easily show a two-year need for the additional staffing. At the end of the Fairchild Street project, Schnelle said, one of the city's full-time engineers plans to retire.
Current Mass Transit Director Dick Brazda also is planning to retire, and the city has spent months narrowing down a field of candidates for that position.
Brazda earns an annual salary of nearly $62,000, according to Eisenhauer, and aldermen approved Tuesday night increasing the salary range for the director to $63,000 to $69,300. Eisenhauer said the increase is necessary, because the city is prepared to make an offer to its top candidate after a long search process, and city officials believe the higher salary is necessary to get the quality of individual city officials want in that position.
Changes approved by the council also included eliminating the downtown services superintendent's position, which paid $43,000 to $44,000, and creating a new position, the superintendent of community improvement, which will earn $49,000 a year.
Shelly Larson was in the previous position and was hired for the new position. Eisenhauer said the new position was opened up to all applicants, but only Larson applied. He said the increase in salary is appropriate, because Larson will be handling the duties of her previous position as well as duties of the former public facilities manager, a job that the city cut last year, when the person in that role, Brock Burton, took over operation of the city's Harrison Park Golf Course.
Public Development Director John Heckler also said that his department is in the process of hiring two individuals to replace two employees who will retire at the end of this month, Shane Farris, the building and electrical inspector and John Shepherd, the plumbing inspector and city plumber.
Savings in hiring full-time engineer
Here is a comparison done by the city of Danville, showing the cost of an engineering consultant versus hiring a new engineer.
Engineering staff work load from May 2012 — April 2014: Two sewer design and construction projects and pump station project; Danville High parking lot improvements; Fairchild subway replacement; Lincoln Park shared-use path; Danville High shared-use path; Voorhees and Jackson intersection redesign; Bowman Avenue improvements; annual maintenance work; and operations/administration duties.
Staff required to handle workload until April 2014: Equivalent of 6.5 to nine engineers (Only three months when eight or more would be necessary).
Current staff: Six full-time engineers, including City Engineer David Schnelle (four are engineers and two are engineering technicians).
Estimated fees if city used engineering consultant: at $80 an hour for an engineering technician, the monthly cost would be $13,867, and total cost over two-year period would be $318,941.
Cost if city hires entry level engineer: Monthly cost would be $5,420, and total cost over two-year period would be $120,520, for an estimated savings of $198,421 over the two-year period, according to Danville city officials.