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City to combine water and sewer departments

March 14, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown will merge its water and sewer departments at the end of March to save money and make water and sewer operations more efficient, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said Thursday.

Dave Shindle, manager of the city's Water Pollution Control (sewer) Department, will head the new Water and Sewer Department when the merger takes effect March 31, Zimmerman said.

"It's going to be like one-stop shopping for our customers," said Shindle, 41. "They'll only have to go to one place for their water and sewer service needs."

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The City of Hagerstown has 25,290 water accounts and 16,903 sewer accounts, and the current year's budget includes 93 staff positions and more than $21 million in expenditures for operations and capital improvements, according to city Public Information Officer Karen Giffin.

The consolidation is expected the save the city about $151,000 in salaries and benefits because it will eliminate two vacant management positions, including water department manager and water department engineer, Zimmerman said.

The merger will not cost any current water or sewer department employees their jobs, he said.

Shindle said he's been overseeing operations at the water department - with help from John Budesky, the city's director of administrative services - since Gene Walzl lost his job as water department manager in October 2002.

"We have some very talented people here, and we'll be relying on those strengths to pull (the merger) together. I can't do it alone," Shindle said.

He was appointed manager of Water Pollution Control in July 2002 after serving as the department's water department engineer. He has worked for the City of Hagerstown since 1989.

Shindle will get a pay raise when he assumes his new title, said Zimmerman, who couldn't provide the amount of the raise Thursday.

He called the fusion of the water and sewer departments "consistent with the Mayor and Council's goals of achieving productivity improvements and reducing costs through streamlining operations."

The merger will make operations more efficient because it will promote cooperation and coordination among supervisors in each department - all of whom will work out of the current Water Pollution Control offices on Frederick Street in Hagerstown, Zimmerman said.

Hagerstown Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said the experience of Shindle and other city water and sewer employees will help make the necessary merger a success.

"This is one area where we can tighten up. It's a cost-saving measure - and I think we can make it work," Hendershot said. "I really believe with the people we have in place it will work."

Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner was unavailable for comment Thursday.

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