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Position created for not-yet-established city utilities division

By Staff | Feb 28, 2011

Cape Coral City Council created a position without actually having a division for the individual to run, but when, and if, someone is eventually hired, he or she will oversee utilities for Public Works.
Council now has to create a utilities division within Public Works, which City Manager Gary King hopes to reorganize and eventually have approved through an amended ordinance in the coming weeks.
Technically, the position is not created, but reclassified, from a Utility Manager to a Utilities Director. The reclassification includes a pay increase but does not require a “professional engineer’s” license as part of the job description.
Pay range for the position is from roughly $80,000 – $130,000.
King said creating the position now will ultimately save time, but the lack of a PE requirement raised eyebrows, and tempers, on the dais.
Councilmember Pete Brandt said having a PE has “little bearing on capability,” adding that many of the original NASA scientists who created the Apollo programs did not have PEs and were “still able to put a man on the moon”.
Brandt also said a PE was just another way for the state of Florida to make money, and was a mere legal device that allows engineers to “sign off” on documents.
“A PE is a revenue generating device for the state, a facet of being able to sign things and be legally responsible for them,” Brandt said, adding that he had not seen the city manager’s plans for reorganizing the Public Works Department.
“When you see the complete restructuring, and I haven’t seen it, but when you do see it, there is going to be significant savings involved,” he added.
King said it is more important for the incoming utilities director to be a good leader instead of having the PE license.
“The leader needs to be a leader first,” King said. “Engineers are not the best leaders, they have a very valuable skill set, but it does not drive leadership.”
The new position was approved by council 5 – 3, with Councilmembers Derrick Donnell, Kevin McGrail and Marty McClain dissenting.
McGrail said hiring a director without the requirement is comparable to hiring the chief of a hospital medical staff that isn’t a doctor.
Human Resources Director Wayne Howard said it is “standard” for the PE requirement to be part of the job but could not speculate on whether other municipalities made the requirement an option.
“We went from it being a mandatory requirement to a desired requirement,” Howard told council.
McCLain said he feels the entire process is being circumvented, possibly for a specific individual, by creating a job for a division that does not yet exist. McClain said he feels the process “was being rushed.”
“Why are we creating a position before the ordinance is even done?” he asked, adding, “I have issues with one of the most important departments in the city of Cape Coral not requiring a PE.”