McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 26, 2013

Questions get answers during city council meeting

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — With McAlester city streets crumbling, gutters overflowing and budget cuts looming, Ward 5 City Councilor Buddy Garvin said he had some questions for the city manager.

“I drive around McAlester and I see things that bother me and I wanted some answers.”

And so after the Oct. 8 council meeting, Garvin gave Stasiak a list of questions.

And during Tuesday’s council meeting, City Manager Pete Stasiak gave Garvin and the rest of the council the answers.

Garvin asked Stasiak about the number of employees in the Street and Utility Department.

Stasiak said the street department has 13 employees which are paid a yearly total of $607,689 including benefits. The Utility Maintenance Department has eight budgeted positions for a yearly salary total of $388,050.

Garvin also wanted to know how many hours were spent cleaning up the city and what equipment was used.

Stasiak said some 240 city street department hours were spent cleaning canals, 168 hours were spent cleaning city gutters and streets, and 192 hours were spend on street-sweeping,.

He said six pieces of equipment purchased over the last four years have been used to their “full capacity.”The equipment includes a Gradall, Dura Patcher, Asphalt  Zipper, two dump trucks, an asphalt roller and a skid steer.

Stasiak also reported this years hours the equipment was used from Jan. to Sept.

He said the Gradall was used 105 days, back hoe, 55 days 10 Dura Patcher, 80 days;  skid steer, 43 days; street sweeper, 65 days; cat blade, 28 days: lay down machine, three days; and the Water Dept. Track-hoe, 23 days.

“Like all departments, everything is affected by off-time,” Stasiak said.

“We had heavy equipment operator off for the three months with an off-the-job injury.”

Stasiak also reported on the clean up of the city’s canals which he said is done annually, usually in the winter months when the “crews are not tied up on street projects.”

Stasiak provided information from the city budget and a report he said the city submitted to the Department of Environmental Quality for the city’s 2012 Storm Water Program.

Garvin then wanted to know why employees would be pulled from other departments to help read meters and why were employees being paid substantial overtime to read the meters.

Stasiak said $1,525.58 in overtime was paid from July to Sept. to the four employees of the Utility Billing Dept.

He said the department has four employees include three residential meter readers and one industrial meter reader.

He said because of employee turnover and because one other employee was off for personal injury for three weeks, other employees from the Airport Division and the Utility Maintenance Dept. were cross trained to assist with the meter reading.

“When other employees are not available from other depts. then overtime is authorized.”

Meanwhile Garvin said he asked the questions because he wants things to be better for McAlester.

“If I’m going to continue to spend time on this council I need know what’s being done,” Garvin said. “I believe the people of McAlester deserve to know what’s going on in their city.”

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.