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County approves 2 engineer positions

January 11, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The Washington County Commissioners added two new positions to the Engineering Department Tuesday after they were told some projects would be jeopardized if they rejected a request for the new jobs.

Public Works Director Gary Rohrer requested a structural engineer and a third project manager, saying they were needed if the county is to meet the demands of current and future projects.

Rohrer gave the County Commissioners a list of bridge and other projects and estimated completion times.

His list described construction of a Clear Spring library and expansion of the Sheriff's Department patrol division quarters as "in jeopardy" if the positions weren't filled. That meant the projects would be delayed, he said.

Some road and bridge projects also would be delayed by one or two years if the positions weren't created and filled, he said.

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The vote was 4-1. Commissioner William J. Wivell opposed the motion by Commissioner Paul L. Swartz.

"It's pay me now or pay me later," Swartz said.

Swartz said that he generally supports cutting costs and reducing debt, but exceptions must be made when necessary.

Rohrer's request was made before Project Manager Steven Kenneth Spalding was suspended after his arrest Dec. 29 on sex charges. Spalding resigned last week.

Spalding's resignation left the county with one working project manager, but the county is advertising that position, Rohrer said.

Rohrer's proposal replaces an earlier request, approved in October, for a part-time technical writer.

The total annual cost to the county of the two positions would be about $30,000 for this fiscal year, he said.

The county could lose $5 million in unused Federal Highway Bridge program money if it isn't more aggressive about repairing and maintaining bridges over the next four years, Rohrer said. Hiring the structural engineer will help them tap into that money, he said. Rohrer had said earlier that about 80 percent of the salary and benefits for the structural engineer would come from federal funds.

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