Watertown extends public works sharing agreement with NY

WMHS LogoThe city of Watertown will extend an agreement with Norwood Young America that shares the service of Watertown’s Utilities Superintendent Doug Kammerer, while also entering into a similar agreement with the city of Cologne.

The cities of Watertown and Norwood Young America first entered into an agreement in August after the retirement of a key NYA staff member. The departure left the city without a licensed operator in its public works department, so the city approached Watertown about Kammerer’s services.

The initial agreement called for Kammerer to spend 8 to 10 hours per week in Norwood Young America, and was designed to be temporary in nature — for a maximum of 6 months — until NYA hired a new licensed operator for its public works facilities. However, Norwood Young America has recently decided to proceed indefinitely with the current sharing model, a model that has also worked well enough for Watertown that the city plans to begin sharing Kammerer’s services with Cologne as well.

The spirit of the original agreement was to be neighborly, and provide Kammerer’s temporary services at a break even point for the city, with NYA paying $50 per hour for the services. That money was used to fund intern assistance in Watertown to help cover the hours that were lost when Kammerer was in Norwood Young America.

That model proved to be very successful for Watertown, which now plans to expand its intern program even further as Kammerer spends more time outside the city. Cologne will pay $50 per hour for approximately 6 to 8 hours of service per week. Cologne also recently lost its licensed operator, an employee that is required to meet Minnesota Pollution Control and Minnesota Department of Health permit requirements. In the interim, Cologne has relied on private contract services to meet its permit requirements.

The benefit for Watertown in both of these arrangements is that the city essentially cuts the number of hours per week that it must pay a highly qualified licensed operator. The cities of Cologne and NYA will essentially be paying for about 15 of Kammerer’s hours each week, while the city of Watertown, in turn, can use that money to pay for several interns at a lower cost. Since not all of the work in Watertown requires a licensed operator, it makes sense for the city to have that work performed by lesser-qualified interns at a lower pay scale while.

Under the agreement, the city of Watertown always maintains priority in terms of which hours Kammerer will spend in Watertown, and in case of any emergencies. Either party would have the option to end the agreement at any time.

In other action:

  • The city council approved a separation agreement with Senior Planner Crystal Paumen. The city will contribute the value of health benefits through February 2013 into an HAS, and pay all unused PTO. The severance package total is estimated at $986.16.
  • The council voted to rezone a portion of land associated with a future Phase II portion of the downtown redevelopment project from “Light Industrial” to “Downtown-Central Business District.” The property is immediately south of where the senior housing facility will be built. No information on Phase II has yet been released, and it is not part of the initial project that was approved by the city council during the same meeting.
  • The council voted to rezone the property at 804 Hutchinson Road from “Medium Density Residential” to “Park/Open Space.” The property, which previously had been the subject of a controversial Subway development proposal, was purchased by the city earlier this year as an intended addition to Highland Park.