City weighs Utilities reorganization

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The reorganization at Plymouth Utilities continued Tuesday.

The City Council unanimously approved the appointment of City Administrator Brian Yerges to the board of directors of WPPI Energy, the consortium of 51 municipal utilities throughout Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan.

Each of the member utilities holds one seat on the board, and former Plymouth Utilities Manager John MacKinnon had served as Plymouth’s representative on the board.

In April, MacKinnon announced his retirement after 31 years with Plymouth Utilities effective Oct. 1.

In the letter to WPPI notifying them of the change in board representatives by the city, MacKinnon’s departure was listed as effective March 29.

Following the council meeting, Yerges explained that MacKinnon’s last day on the job was March 29, although he has been available for consultation since then.

Yerges also said that the city is weighing its options for administering the city-owned utilities.

He noted that in many municipalities that own utilities, management of the utility is combined with other city departments, such as public works or city administrator, for the sake of efficiency, coordination and saving costs.

Yerges cited cases in the past where there has been a lack of coordination between Plymouth Utilities and the city’s Public Works Department on street work and sewer/water main projects.

Too often, he explained, those have been scheduled in different years on the same street, resulting in excessive disruption and inconvenience for residents as well as added expenses for the city.

Thus, the city is exploring of not filling the vacant Plymouth Utilities manager position but instead spreading those duties out among a number of other city and utilities employees.

The council has held closed sessions, each lasting more than half an hour, following its last two regular meetings to discuss a personnel issue, reportedly involving MacKinnon.

The council approved a resolution dissolving the city’s Safety Committee.

Yerges explained that the committee, which consisted of the various city department heads along with the city administrator, was set up to review risk management issues for the city.

It met on a regular basis, he said, but its agendas were never posted.

“It’s really just a staff working group,” Yerges told the council. City officials will still be reviewing risk management and other related issues on a regular basis, he said, “but we will make it part of our regular staff meetings. This does not change necessarily what’s being done but just where it’s being done.”

He added that the council still has a Public Safety Committee which addresses public safety issues such as parking, speed limits and the like.

The council approved two street closings on Mill Street for this summer:

. Mill from North to Stafford streets Saturday, June 29, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the Mural and Arts Festival.

. Mill from North to Caroline streets Saturday, July 13, from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the annual Mill Street Festival.

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