Danbury’s Public Works Department is comprised of several Divisions which ultimately provide for the core of the services that the residents and taxpayers receive. These Divisions include Engineering, Public Buildings, Public Utilities, Construction Services and the Public Services Division which is Parks Maintenance, Highway, Forestry and Vehicle Maintenance. Together, these divisions make up one of the most diversified Public Works Departments in the State of Connecticut with a work force totaling 140 employees. In the summer months, the employee population reaches over 160. The division heads and middle management staff are well experienced in their respective fields of responsibility and work well as a team.
The Public Works Department managed approximately $25 million dollars in the delivery of their services to the public and capital projects. These Divisions, working together under the leadership of the Public Works Director and the supervision of the City Engineer, Superintendents of Public Services, Public Utilities, Public Buildings, Construction Services and other subordinate supervisors, are responsible for the control and maintenance of all City owned or leased structures and the balance of the City’s infrastructure.
The Public Works Department operated under very tight budget constraints. In FY 2012/2013, the total funds allocated to Public Works to perform all of their annual programs, deal with all of the storms that hit the City, maintain all of the public buildings and schools, maintain all of the parks, beaches, playgrounds and school grounds and right-of-way grass islands, maintain all of the roads and bridges, decorative lights in downtown, maintain the multi-million dollar fleet of vehicles and heavy equipment is only 4.9% of the total allocated budget of the City. In addition, with this low funding level, we also pay for all of the fuel that the other departments use, the electric bill for the street lights for the entire City, maintenance and repairs for the large fleet of police vehicles and all of the utilities for our public buildings exclusive of the schools.
The Director and these Division Managers are accountable for the performance of their departments, and the effective and efficient spending of the taxpayers’ money. The management structure of the department, overall, is flat with only one level of managers below the Director. The balance of the management team consists of field personnel, lead personnel and foremen. The Director is hands-on and often is in the field with his managers and staff.
The administration of all the responsibilities of the Public Works Department is very complex and challenging. The Director strives to create a team approach to carry out all of the tasks that the department must perform. The success of the Department is largely attributed to the men and women who perform the work and deliver the services to the taxpayers. The Director strives to create a working environment for his Division Managers and general work force that is based on teamwork, respect, loyalty and accountability. This is a work environment that provides for Division Managers and their work force to be the best at what they do.
Similar to last year, the goal for 2013/2014 includes a concentrated effort to perform more work with less. The Department is prepared to deal with some of the budget and personnel cuts this year and will strive to deliver the same level of services as last year. The department must look at new ways of performing the same old tasks. The Director has empowered his Division Managers and their immediate staff to look at more cost effective ways to perform work. All new ideas are considered and analyzed, much like a private business would.
For two years now the initiative to sell millings has generated some revenue and is a practice that will be continued when millings are available. To date, we have taken in $33,000 on a product that we would usually have had to pay to dispose of.
The Public Works Director is very active in his field and continually talks to other municipal public works professionals to share experiences and success stories. He has actively chaired the Association of Housatonic Valley Public Works Professionals and is the chairman of ESF3 Public Works Committee for Region 5 for the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. His personal goal is to have his department provide a legacy of making decisions, implementing processes and procedures and caring for the City’s infrastructure in a way that will provide meaningful, long lasting contributions and a positive influence on the lives of the residents and the culture of the City.
All Divisions of the Public Works Department had major accomplishments in the 2012/2013 fiscal year. None of these accomplishments would have happened if it was not for the support of the other City Departments and the Mayor’s Office. They provide the operational support that allows us to execute our work. The Director continues to be actively involved in the day to day activities of the various divisions. This past year the Public Works Department was proud to administrate several projects. The following is a summary of some of the projects:
- Administrated the design and state approval of four (4) school expansions and renovations projects within a record timeframe
- Construction of the new Headstart building
- Completed improvements to the Citizens Hose Company #7
- Tarrywile Mansion roof replacement and interior work
- Complete replacement of all windows and doors at the Danbury High School (except the new wing)
- Scour repair to the East Franklin Street Bridge
- Scour repair to the Crosby Street Bridge
- Successfully managed and implemented the clean-up of the oil spill at the Magnet School
- Managed the combined response and spearheaded the clean-up of Super Storm Sandy in October, a significant early snowstorm on November 7, 2012 that caused extensive tree damage, the blizzard of 2013 in February in which we have over 18” of snow with heavy drifting in which Danbury was the first community to have all roads opened and parking lots cleared by that Sunday morning, less than 3 days after the start of the storm, and was able to send a large coalition of plow trucks, loaders, specialized equipment and staff to the City of Waterbury as requested by the State of Connecticut Emergency Management to assist with opening roads.
- Responded to a total of 16 snow and ice events
- Designed and administrated, as general contractor, the new stage at the City Center Green
The Highway Division , in addition to administrating all of their scheduled programs and dealing with storms and the clean-up from those storms, also was able to resurface 2.5 miles of road and eliminate 33 icing and drainage issues throughout the City which included installing 2,765 LF of pipe and 80 new catch basins using in-house personnel.
Once again, the Construction Services Division has had a significant impact on our ability to stretch our capital dollars. This division works and implements construction of projects, much like a private general contractor would. We have drastically reduced the need for outside construction management of smaller projects and perform construction of these projects in-house by using our in-house staff and equipment. We plan on doing the core project management for the new school projects in-house.
The Public Buildings Division was able to respond to all work orders. For a small staff, these mechanics have done a tremendous job keeping up with work orders and responding to emergencies. They played a critical role in the clean-up of the oil spill at the Magnet School
The Public Utilities Division has been inundated with compliance reporting requirements to various state and federal agencies. The superintendent and his staff have kept the sewer and water infrastructure up and running while providing the lowest user rates in the State. Significant time and resources have been spent on the issue of phosphorus removal at our sewer treatment facility as it relates to our permit and the science used to set the limits by DEEP. Danbury spearheaded a coalition of towns dealing with similar stringent requirements by DEEP.
The Public Works Division participated in additional training through the Connecticut Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. The Association of Public Works Professionals of the Housatonic Valley has been working with DEMHS to secure additional training and equipment. The Director coordinated the second round of training for the Association which included all of the Region 5 towns. This year the Director was actively involved in securing three pole cameras, an additional digital sign and five portable, generator powered light towers for regional use.
The Sixth Annual Public Works Awareness Day, as part of celebrating National Public Works Week, was held on May 15th. This event was well attended and provided for more team building, not only between divisions but other City departments. The event was also attended by several residents and almost 100 grammar school children. Besides the team building theme, the event is geared to bring an awareness to the resources that exist in the City of Danbury Public Works, the staff that makes it all happen and career opportunities that the Public Works Industry can provide to young men and women.
I want to personally thank my management team and their staff for their patience and steady effort in getting the City through the yearly programs with less staff and other critical resources.
Please read the Public Works Department individual Division Reports and if you have any questions, or have any ideas on how to improve the service we are providing, please call me at my office.