City to Hire Civil Engineer

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

October 8, 2021

An overburdened Morro Bay Public Works Department will get some top-level help soon, after the city council approved a request to hire a senior civil engineer.

Public Works Director, Gregory Kwolek, asked to add the new position to his staff after a performance and staff evaluation concluded that they were short handed. The study found gaps in service in several areas: 

  • Staff capacity to manage and implement capital projects;
  • Staff capacity to process plan reviews for development in a timely manner consistent with the Permit Streamlining Act (Government Code § 65920);
  • Staff capacity to create short- and long-range plans for replacement of City infrastructure and related maintenance; and, 
  • Staff availability to respond to resident concerns in a timely manner
  • Succession planning for the City Engineer position.

“The intent of this position,” Kwolek said, “is to address these gaps by adding to the Department’s capacity to complete work, engage and respond to the community, and assist in the development of a Capital Improvement Program and other long-rage plans.”

The new position was budgeted at $175,473 for salary and benefits. The position was already budgeted for in the current spending plan with money from Measures Q and E (both are sales tax hikes approved by voters) under the heading of “Public Works Pool for CIP Implementation” (CIP is Capital Improvement Projects). The Q&E budget item was for $175,000 but Kwolek said they’d absorb the $473 remainder in the department’s budget.

Whoever gets the job is going to be busy. His or her duties will include: 

  • Supervision of engineering and support staff as well as consultants;
  • Project management;
  • Preparation of comprehensive plans for a variety of City assets;
  • Land development plan reviews;
  • Permitting;
  • Interdepartmental coordination of projects, plans, and activities;
  • Attending and presenting at public and community meetings; and,
  • Assisting with the implementation of the City’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) transition plan.

They also have to start planning for the looming retirement of City Engineer, Rob Livick, whom Kwolek replaced as public works director. Livick last year stepped down from the department head spot to become the City Engineer. It’s anticipated he will retire in the next 2-5 years. Livick has been with the City for over 15 years and was with the City of SLO before that in a 33-year career.

Kwolek told EBN they’d take applications through Oct. 14. They’d lost Herb Edwards of their staff when the pandemic started, he said, leaving them short-handed. This new hire will fill gaps in their staff. 

“The Senior Civil Engineer position,” Kwolek said, “will fill some gaps and assist in completing our development reviews, inspections, and capital projects.”

Livick, Kwolek said, “holds a ton of institutional knowledge that we hope the incoming SCE will learn and benefit from.”

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