June 24, 2018
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Greenville looks to restructure public works department

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

GREENVILLE, Maine — To shave costs and streamline projects, Greenville town officials are investigating the possibility of restructuring the public works department.

“I’m suggesting we restructure public works,” Greenville Town Manager John Simko told selectmen Wednesday, in view of the planned retirement in May of the public works foreman.

Simko proposed that starting July 1, the town reduce the department from three full-time employees to two full-time employees and use seasonal help in the summer and winter.

The person in the seasonal summer position would focus on facility maintenance following a model developed for the recreation department and the seasonal winter worker would help plow as needed, according to Simko. The town also could shift some contracted jobs such as painting, mowing and cleaning of the bathrooms to the part-time summer help. The shift and the fact the town would avoid health insurance coverage on the part-time positions would result in a savings of as much as $20,000, he said he believed. That savings would be reduced the first year because the town would need to purchase lawn mowers, he noted.

“For this to work,” Simko said, “summer work would have to be reduced for the Public Works Department by hiring out more construction work and understanding that fewer jobs would be done per year as a result.” He suggested that some summer road projects be done with a combination of hiring out and the use of the town’s equipment and manpower.

Simko said he doesn’t recommend contracting out plow routes or any public works aspect that would idle a piece of the town’s equipment. The town receives a benefit from its equity through use, he said.

Compared with surrounding communities and the county, Greenville’s cost per mile for road maintenance is at the lower end, according to Simko. From a review of contracts from the county and other local towns, it was clear that Greenville’s cost per mile for winter road maintenance of $5,932 was lower than most.

In comparison, Beaver Cove, which maintains 4.75 miles of the Lily Bay Road, pays $7,000 per mile for winter maintenance, according to the review. Piscataquis County also pays in the $6,000-to-$7,000 range per mile for roads in the Unorganized Territory.

Greenville’s per-mile cost also includes the sweeping of winter sand and plowing of sidewalks and parking lots, which are not included in many of the other contracts that were reviewed, Simko said.

Since the town does not own the proper equipment for plowing the sidewalks, Simko recommended that work be contracted out.

Selectmen agreed to review Simko’s recommendation but also stressed the need to look at all options for the town. A work session to discuss those options will be held at 6 p.m. Jan 27 in the municipal building.

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