To The Editor:
Are the residents of the town of DeKalb aware of the current situation with regard to highway superintendent? The superintendent, who ran unopposed in November, has resigned. During his tenure as highway superintendent, he also ran a successful excavation business and wants to dedicate more time to that endeavor.
This gentleman first took office several years ago, through appointment, subsequent to the resignation of the elected department chief. The issue at that time was regarding the salary and benefits of said position.
This will be the third time in my memory that the position has come open between elections and had to be filled through appointment. At this point a town trustee who is related to the current highway superintendent has expressed interest in the position. The interested party was involved, originally, with the appointment of our current superintendent. As I said, the election was in November. Now the position has defaulted to another appointment.
The highway superintendent in DeKalb is not required to work full time at the position, but is paid approximately $40,000 a year. I believe individual health insurance is provided, as well as contributions to retirement. To an old man like me, that seems like a darned good part-time job.
Apparently the town of DeKalb finds it hard to fill the position and retain the superintendent. Why? Is the salary too low, the work load too great and the job too demanding? Perhaps the position should be a legitimately structured, professional job with a real job description and higher pay, which falls into a defined and recognized chain of command. Then the town could find a suitable long-term, effective, full-time employee to appoint.
The town highway budget involves a substantial amount of money. The position needs to be administered by someone with experience and a professional understanding of finance, budgets, maintenance of roads and equipment. A referendum would be required to change the local law, but that is not impossible to accomplish. As it stands, the position is becoming a part-time patronage job. Is there no one in DeKalb qualified for this job except a currently elected town official?
I encourage anyone interested in filling the interim position to stop by the Town Office and fill out an application. Applications will be accepted until March 7. Town officials will review all applications and choose a new interim highway superintendent on March 10.