Village DPW temporarily restructured


“Considering the current job market and shortage of employees in all fields, finding a replacement may be very difficult. Brooklyn Village Manager Jae Guetschow on finding a new DPW director.

By John Hummer

With the sudden departure of former Village of Brooklyn Department of Public Works director Keith Kotsch on March 25, Village Manager Jae Guetschow, pictured left, has taken the reins to manage the department through the month of April while still handling all of his normal village manager duties.

“I have implemented a temporary restructuring of the DPW, pending the arrival of the next village manager, to function without a DPW director,” Guetschow said.

That temporary restructuring includes DPW Supervisor Dennis Spitler assuming most of the functions, especially those pertaining to supervision of staff and work in the field. Sandy Kimball, a village administrative assistant, has assumed much of the administrative functions. “Officially, the village manager approves purchasing and critical decisions,” Guetschow stated.

Guetschow emphasized that the restructuring of the DPW is considered temporary, pending the arrival of Scott Czasak, the next village manager.

The DPW director position is in charge of the planning, coordination and operation of the village’s water distribution system, its sanitary sewer collection system, the stormwater collection and discharge system, the street system, the village parks, buildings and grounds, and the operation and maintenance of the sewer system for contracted communities outside of the Village of Brooklyn.

Columbia Township officials, who contract with the village, say they are not concerned about the vacancy at this point.

“We’ve had a great partnership with the Village of Brooklyn for years,” said Columbia Township Supervisor Barry Marsh. “We certainly want to wish him [Kotsch] the best for his future endeavors, and we look forward to our continued relationship with the Village of Brooklyn as our O&M (operations and maintenance) provider.”

Licensing and credentials to oversee Brooklyn’s water tower is one major role the DPW director plays. Guetschow said there needs to be someone with an operator and distribution license, licensed by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. Currently, Jake Vincent in the DPW possesses the required license, he noted.

“The village also contracts with Suez (recently becoming Veolia) to provide inspection and maintenance of the water tower, iron removal system, and both deep well pumps,” he added.

In addition, in order to apply necessary treatment chemicals to the water, such as fluoride, a person with an operator and distribution license with D-3 (distribution) and S-3 (treatment) certifications is needed. “Treatment includes removal of iron and addition of chlorine and fluoride,” Guetschow explained. “Chlorine and fluoride are both injected into the flow of water whenever the wells are pumping water. All of the functions are automated, though daily testing occurs to monitor the levels of chlorine and fluoride.” Currently, DPW’s Jake Vincent is also certified in the distribution and treatment areas.

It remains to be seen what changes will occur in the department upon the arrival of Czasak on May 2. The current fiscal year budget for the village’s Department of Public Works is $138,450. Kotsch’s latest salary as DPW director was $55,128.

The DPW has eight employees, including the director, supervisor, administrative assistant, and five sewer technicians. The budget doesn’t seem like a lot for all of those employees. However, Guetschow notes, “Keep in mind there are separate funds for water, sewer, streets, internal service (equipment), and general fund that include activities performed by the DPW.”

Guetschow thinks finding a replacement for Kotsch could be difficult. So, what key qualifications does he think the village council and new village manager should look for if and when they post the DPW director position?

“Ideally, experience with all of the various functions of the DPW, especially experience with a regional sanitary sewer system with pressure mains, lift stations and grinder pumps,” he stated. “Considering the current job market and shortage of employees in all fields, finding a replacement may be very difficult.”

Guetschow had no further information to share on Kotsch’s resignation.

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