As part of the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget process, Calvert County commissioners recently heard about a request for 10 additional public works employees.
Rai Sharma, director of public works, and Danielle Conrow, deputy director for engineering and highways, led the presentation to county officials during a work session on Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Among the positions requested are a senior-level engineer, a Project Management division chief and a public works inspector, along with a seven-person road crew.
Conrow said public works has never had a senior project engineer and noted that some counties in the state do.
If approved, the Project Management division chief and public works inspector positions would be added to the eight current Project Management employees, she said.
Public works previously had a division chief. In regard to the inspector position, the department “has been after this for a couple of years now,” Conrow said, noting the inspector would conduct commercial grading inspections.
Another request would move project management staff from 70 to 80 hours per pay period.
County Administrator Mark Willis noted that project management employees work an 8-hour day anyway, so the move would save money that is being spent on overtime. In regard to the road crew addition, Conrow said it depends on what the commissioners want to do. She gave three options, including adding staff, contracting services to private contractors or limiting services.
“We’re seeking direction,” Conrow said.
Highway Maintenance division chief Mark Mister said adding the crew “will allow us to be more proactive.”
Some examples of work that road crews perform include ditch line cleanup, culvert repair and trimming trees. In response to a question from Commissioner Earl F. “Buddy” Hance (R) about priorities, Conrow said they are, in order, safety, age of the request and urgency. Hance asked why county employees pick up trash when more important jobs are waiting.
“The trash has to be picked up if you want to keep Calvert County clean,” Sharma said, adding that a number of county residents have said that they expect the county to do it.
Hance suggested that the county sheriff’s office might be able to help more with inmate work crews.
“We don’t get regular help (from the sheriff),” Sharma said.
Assistant Sheriff Lt. Col. Dave McDowell said any jail inmates must be at the trustee level to qualify for road cleanup duty. A vetting process also is involved, he said. The cost for the additional 10 positions would total $1.6 million, including salaries,uniforms and equipment.