Missouri City hopeful for new public works director      

After more than a year of searching, Missouri City has a candidate for its public works director position. City Manager Anthony Snipes said he expects to present his candidate to City Council tonight for approval to make the hire.

The public works director is responsible for overseeing the city’s water, sewer and wastewater treatment services. The department also maintains geographic information system applications, sidewalks, traffic control devices and provides animal control services, among other responsibilities.

“It’s a very important role,” Snipes said.

The city has been without a public works director since June 2015 and since then, other staff have taken on duties of the role, Snipes said. Assistant City Manager Scott Elmer, a certified engineer and a former assistant public works director, took over multiple public works director duties.

The City Council approved hiring an outside search firm in July at a cost of  $27,000.

If the candidate is approved, it would be the fifth executive director position Snipes has hired for the city since becoming city manager in December 2015. He also hired directors for fire services, parks and recreation, finance and development services.

In addition, Snipes hired a divisional director of court services and a chief performance officer for the city. Snipes did not say who the public works director candidate was but that they had previous experience in cities similarly-sized to Missouri City and larger.

The new public works director will lead implementation of projects in the city’s master plan and a $6.5 million budget for fiscal year 2016-17, according to the approved budget.

Attracting talent

In an effort to make salaries more competitive, the city approved 3-percent pay adjustments for all employees in May. The adjustment came from a study of comparable municipalities and was intended to bring city salaries within 95 percent of the cities featured in the study.

But during a council discussion of the city’s compensation system Feb. 6, Edward Williams, Missouri City's human resources director, requested the council consider adjusting the city’s compensation philosophy from 95 percent of market salaries to 100 percent of the market.

Council Member Jerry Wyatt asked Williams if the city had a recruitment problem for non-exempt positions, which are eligible for overtime hours.

“I wouldn’t call it a problem, I’d call it an opportunity,” Williams said. He said that when a recruiter offers a salary at 95 percent of the market, candidates will often ask for more.

Snipes said changing the compensation philosophy would need council approval. He told council members that at least four candidates for public works director had declined the position because of the salary offered. Snipes did not disclose the amount of the salary offered.