April 26, 2011


Mayor names new city wastewater chief

Staff Reporter

Mayor Susan Feiszli announced Monday that she has chosen Bruce Adams to serve as chief operator of the city wastewater treatment plant.
Feiszli told the city Wastewater Treatment Board her decision in a 40-minute executive session Monday, and would not reveal it publicly until after she notified the two candidates individually this morning.
Adams and Maintenance Supervisor Tom McCall were named to the short list to fill the vacancy created when Chief Operator Harvey Davis’ retirement becomes effective Friday.
Chairman John Troy, who is also a county legislator, said the mayor and the board thought it was fair to notify the candidates before announcing it publicly.
“We had a nice discussion in executive session, and we support the mayor on whatever her decision is,” Troy said Monday, adding that he would not reveal the name before Feiszli does.
Adams, 51, has been working at the plant since 1985, and received certification to run the plant in 2003.
He was the operations foreman, but became the deputy chief when the plant went under city control in 2004.
Adams’ appointment will need Common Council approval. The vote will either be May 3 or May 17, when his pay will also be determined, Feiszli said.
The Wastewater Board unanimously voted earlier this month to promote one of two sewer plant employees to the chief operator position.
According to the City Charter, the Wastewater Board must supply the mayor with a list of qualified candidates to fill the position.
Davis, who has been chief operator at the plant since 1993, announced his retirement last month. He has been using up vacation time he built up until his retirement is effective.
“They are both good candidates,” Feiszli said. “Over the past couple of weeks I’ve delegated responsibilities to Bruce (Adams) to oversee the plant, and I’m impressed with his management style.”
McCall was put in charge of the plant by Davis, but was replaced by Adams because McCall is president of the union the wastewater treatment plant employees are forming, Feiszli said.
In the letter announcing his retirement, Davis had recommended McCall be named the new chief operator.
“I appreciate Harvey’s (Davis) recommendations, but it’s ultimately my appointment,” Feiszli said.
Feiszli said Adams is highly qualified and has more experience as an operator than McCall.
It is unclear who will fill the deputy chief position.
Annette Barber, director of the Cortland County Personnel Department, told the board last month that a provisional appointment could be made, but a civil service test would be needed to hire a permanent replacement.
The next test would not be given until September 2012, and Adams will need to score within the top three to become the permanent chief operator.
The plant has been grappling with questions regarding staffing levels and the need for costly upgrades to come into compliance with new federal Chesapeake Bay regulations, which in part address how much nitrogen and phosphorus are released into waterways by the wastewater plants in the bay’s watershed.
The city’s wastewater treatment plant, located off Port Watson Street, runs on an annual budget of about $3.5 million and has contracts with the villages of Homer and McGraw, as well as the town of Cortlandville to treat their wastewater.
The plant will be down to seven employees once Davis’ retirement becomes effective.


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