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Boulder finalizes structural changes for Public Works in response to consultant’s concerns

Head staffers also reshuffled

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Boulder on Monday made final structural changes to municipal departments that were recommended as potential remedies to a consultant’s report last year that found serious issues with city Public Works and Planning departments’ staff morale and its relationships with top managers and City Council.

Officials also announced interim and permanent department head staffing decisions made in response to the changes and recent turnover in some positions.

City staffers from all levels of the departmental organizations have contributed to conversations and the plan meant to improve the work environments in Boulder public offices, officials said.

The changes include splitting Public Works into two departments, Transportation and Mobility, and Utilities, with each having a distinct director. Also, Planning and Development Services will become its own department, merging the functions of the former Planning Department and Public Works Development Services Division. A new standalone Facilities Department will also be created to implement, maintain and operate city building infrastructure.

“This new structure will enable the city to streamline processes and provide a higher level of service to the community, with a focus on operational excellence,” City Manager Jane Brautigam, who signed off on the changes, stated in a news release.

The release announced Deputy City Manager Chris Meschuk, a longtime city staffer promoted to that role in January, will no longer be interim planning director because the new role demands his full attention. Recruiting is ongoing for the planning director position.

Mary Ann Weideman, formerly the overarching director of Public Works and a city staffer since 1992, has accepted the role of interim director of Planning and Development Services while the hiring process for a permanent director continues. The overarching Public Works head position has been eliminated, and the utilities and transportation and mobility directors will report directly to Brautigam.

The city has contracted with Waldron, a recruiting agency, for a $30,000 flat-rate fee to fill the head Planning and Development Services Department position.

The first Facilities and Fleet director will be Joanna Crean, who will guide the transition of city facilities and its fleet into its own department, separate from public works.

Bill Cowern, a Boulder staffer since 1994, has accepted the position of deputy director of the Public Works Transportation and Mobility Department, and will fill the role of interim director while recruiting continues for the permanent position. He will oversee multi-modal transportation planning, GO Boulder, capital projects, traffic engineering and transportation operations and maintenance and the Boulder Municipal Airport.

Cowern took over as interim transportation director after the sudden and mysterious resignation of Carlos Hernandez from the permanent director position earlier this year, just weeks after he started the job. Recruitment for that position continues to be handled by a city contract with the CPS Consulting recruiting agency, because the city already paid it $14,469 to bring in Hernandez, and it must recruit another candidate because he did not stay in the position for six months.

“The structural changes have been put in place to streamline decision-making and communication and provide efficient and consistent service delivery to the community,” city spokesperson Julie Causa said.

Tom Settle will be deputy director of Public Works for Utilities, supporting Utilities Director Joe Taddeucci, who was hired in that role in December. Settle has 44 years of experience, the release said.

“I am continually inspired by the levels of dedication and service these professionals bring to their roles at the city,” Brautigam stated in the release.

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