Street/water superintendents, wastewater OIC to become foremen
But salaries, job descriptions won’t change for positions
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Three Rhinelander city positions will have new titles as a result of action taken Monday night by the Rhinelander City Council, though the salaries for those jobs won’t change.
The seven council members present voted 5-2 in favor of changing the street and water superintendents and the wastewater operator in charge to foremen. The change, which was backed by interim city administrator Keith Kost, comes slightly more than a month after Tony Gilman resigned as the street superintendent to begin working as the city of Baraboo’s street superintendent.
“It was an oral recommendation that came from a third party that this would be appropriate…,” Kost said. “It does not change any of the job descriptions. It does fit into your organizational chart.”
Gilman’s annual salary of $68,994 was above what a wage study conducted for the city last year by Carlson Dettmann Consulting placed his salary for that position, for which the salary range has been lowered to between $52,373 and $59,862 to fill the vacancy. Kost previously noted that salary range would be closer to what the water superintendent and wastewater operator in charge are being paid.
Public Works Committee chairman Tom Gleason, who along with Tom Kelly opposed changing the job titles to foremen, called the change “a bunch of hooey.”
“If this isn’t a back-door demotion, I don’t know what is,” Gleason said. “I don’t see a problem with leaving the names as superintendents.”
Gleason further stated the change amounted to “an attempt to diminish their authority, which has already been diminished significantly and I think it’s an attempt to take away all their authorities in the future.”
In Gilman’s resignation letter, he made reference to problems with the “current workplace culture,” though Gilman didn’t publicly blame anyone for that specifically by name.
The council’s debate resurfaced divisions with the city organizational chart related to the public works department. As laid out and previously approved by the City Council, the organizational chart places the public works director, Tim Kingman, as the direct supervisor of both the street and water superintendents.
However, in late 2015 the application of that chain of command had been overridden without council approval by then-city administrator Kristina Aschenbrenner, who temporarily placed herself, instead of Kingman, as the direct supervisor of the street and water superintendents.
“I think I’ve seen in the last couple of years people using the superintendent’s title to pretty much do anything they feel like,” said Finance Committee chairman Mark Pelletier. “I find that inappropriate. I find that part of our problem, and I don’t think this changes anybody’s job description, but it prevents them from going beyond their job description.”
Kelly said the change would “convey a message that this is a demotion.”
Council president George Kirby said he didn’t believe changing the job title from superintendent to foreman would result in an employee in that position doing less work.
“There should be no public input there to say it’s a demotion,” Kirby said. “All it is is a job description title.”
Council member Dawn Rog, who voted for the motion, suggested changing the title to foreperson instead of foreman, though that wording wasn’t included as part of the council’s action.