6-Figure Salary Positions Discussed

Manchester Township Councilman Craig Wallis, seated at left, listens to Manchester Township Public Works Director Al Yodakis as he addresses the public about his duties during a recent Township Council meeting. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  MANCHESTER – Last year the governing body created the position of Director of Utilities, a measure designed to eliminate a third-party vendor as a required consultant, but that position has gotten a second look and is now being modified.

  Resident Mary Irwin asked about the revised position of Director of Utilities in the Department of Public Works during a recent council meeting.

  She said the position “was carved out and it no longer falls under the Division of Utilities. It was taken out and it was my understanding that this was done to save the township money because we had been spending a lot of money because we don’t have someone who has the proper license to fill the position.”

  Irwin noted that the previous council approved it but now it is being looked at again. “There are two members on this council that were from the previous council and one of them voted no (Councilman Craig Wallis) so I wanted to know what changed? Are we going to save money by doing this?”

  Mayor Robert Arace introduced Department of Public Works Director Al Yodakis who was present at the session and who will serve in that capacity. The mayor explained, “the intent as the Council and CFO (chief financial officer) and director of public works agrees is to still have that third party vendor removed to save money.”

  “What happened was when it was previously presented to the town, the way it was positioned was that we would have a director of utilities come and have a required operator’s license called a Class III. The way it was positioned to the council previously, was that this director could have a Class III function as a field operator and manage budget and work.”

  Mayor Arace further explained that the township couldn’t find a director with managerial and budgetary experience and a Class III license. “Those two people typically don’t coincide with one another. The field operator needs to get the plan second and actually mandated to be at the plant, 35 out of 40 hours a week for a Class III operator.”

  “Finding that person has been extremely difficult so keeping in mind that my intention is to also remove the third-party operator, I am looking at how we can actually save the township more money,” he said.

  Arace said Yodakis had found in surrounding communities that in every instance they have a director and an operator beneath them. “My concern was that with the department of utilities being created for that position, that we have to fill it. The salary would be $150,000 and that we would still need a regulatory operator, Class III that would typically go for $100,000 per year.

  “Then we’d be looking at a salary of $250,000 per year to a combined position, not counting pension and benefits. My estimate put those two employees at a higher fee than the third-party operator which would be between $220,000 and $250,000.”

  “Our plan is to still bring it in internally,” the mayor said. Yodakis had done that position since 2016 “and had done it very well. He will actually perform as the division head of utilities, for $15,000 a year. We have a staff member with a Class II internally who we would like to promote currently working on his Class III which would put us at $95,000 to $100,000 potentially for that operator.”

  The mayor said Yodakis would earn between both jobs, a salary of $115,000, “as opposed to having a director and Class III operator putting us at $250,000. I won’t speak for Council but I think we all unanimously agree that if the intent is to save the town money, we are doing it more effectively by leveraging the wealth of expertise we already have.”

  Yodakis said, “if it continued the way it was, you’d be hiring a director for probably $150,000. My wife thinks I’m crazy I’m willing to do it for $15,000. I’ve done it since 2016 and I thank you for your kind words. I’d like to think I’ve done a good job and made a lot of progress. You may see a new water tower up and we’ve done a lot of projects.”

  “It is a significant cost savings to the town and we are still trying looking to promote one of our junior staff to become the licensed operator which is a 35 hour a week position. The gentleman has to pass two more tests and then we’ll be able to take this all in-house and eliminate this outside consultant,” Yodakis added.

  Yodakis said, “we are doing everything we can to keep our costs down.”

  Irwin noted, “I know what they paid to consultants last year and it was astronomical.”

  “This will become more cost advantageous,” Mayor Arace added.