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Succession plan in place at WPC division

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 11:00 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017 2:23 p.m. CST
(Jamee A. Pierson/Daily News)
The Newton City Council discusses the secession plan in the Water Pollution Control Division as all employees will be up for retirement in the coming years.

A succession plan for staff at the Water Pollution Control Division in Newton has been put into place. Within the next five year, all WPC staff will be eligible for retirement leaving a critical area of Newton without any leadership.

“Currently five of the eight remaining WPC employees are eligible for retirement. Within the next five years, all WPC staff will be eligible for retirement,” city administrator Matt Muckler said. “The WPC Plant and sanitary sewer collection system is one of the most complex and critical infrastructure systems within the city of Newton. Succession planning for the WPC Division is critical to the city of Newton.”

The retirement of the chemist at WPC has provided an opportunity to make changes to the organization structure and begin a succession plan, as additional retirements ensue. The city has decided to outsource the lab testing for the operation instead of replacing the chemist position, tapping Keystone Laboratory to take over the duties. Cost saving from lab supplies, utility costs and miscellaneous items are unknown at this time, Muckler said.

Currently, both the superintendent and assistant superintendent at WPC are Grade IV Operators, a requirement by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the positions. No other current employees in WPC have a license above grade II, leaving the division short of the required grade III designation along with a minimum four years experience and two years experience in a supervisor role when the superintendents retire.

There is one employee with a grade III operator license who has expressed a desire to transfer to the WPC division in a supervisory role. The employee has eleven years experience and would be able to gain the required two years of supervision experience upon transfer to test for the WPC grade IV operator license.

“The goal of this employee is to be qualified to apply for the WPC Assistant or Superintendent positions once either became vacant,” Muckler said.

In the plan, the employee will serve as the WPC Operations Supervisor and be a working supervisor created to have a succession plan for the pending retirements. The operations supervisor position will be eliminated at the time it is vacated by the potential advancement of the employee.

There is an approximate $25,000 additional cost temporarily to this proposal, $8,334 in salary and an additional $16,411 in health benefits to this position. The former employee had single coverage and the proposed employee has family coverage.

“Once there is a retirement, this position will be eliminated and the cost savings from outsourcing the lab analysis can be realized,” Muckler said.

City council emphasized the critical need for the succession plan to be in place with the large number of looming retirements in the foreseeable future.

“We’ve talked a lot about the need of a succession plan so it is good to see an actual step being proposed so we can address it,” councilwoman Evelyn George said. “When we think that, in the next five years, all staff will be eligible for retirement, it is definitely time to have this in place and it is an important step.”

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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