JEFFERSON — An impromptu discussion has brought the attention of Jefferson officials to the city’s Public Works director position.
During the Jefferson City Council meeting on March 22, Councilman C.D. Kidd made a motion to discuss department heads, which lead to a debate about eliminating the position.
“The reason why I brought it up is because we took on the Public Works director position because, at the time, we were anticipating tremendous growth, and we needed someone to manage (growth-related projects). However, we haven’t reached that point in growth where I thought we needed that position,” Kidd said.
“Before we had a Public Works director, we had a head for each department and they’re still there, getting paid the same salary. I just don’t think we’re getting our money’s worth.”
According to Kidd, the city could save about $90,000 if the Public Works director position — currently held by Jeff Killip — were eliminated.
“If you look around, every government is cutting back,” Kidd said. “That money could go a long way; we could pay a lot of bills with that.”
If Killip’s position is cut, other staff members would have to pick up his duties. But Jefferson Mayor Jim Joiner said losing Killip could cost the city more in the long run.
“I see nothing but problems if that position is eliminated. We would have to bring in outside consultants and engineers to assume the role that Jeff has been playing to oversee the projects that we have going on,” Joiner said.
“We have a lot of road, sewer and parking lot projects going on right now. We’d have to bring in someone to make sure that the work is done and done right.”
Prior to being hired as the department’s director two years ago, Killip worked with the engineering department that consulted with the city for various projects, Joiner says.
“Killip has a background in engineering, and he lives in the city. It just made sense to hire him,” Joiner said.
Unlike what some proponents for eliminating the position have said, bringing Killip on board didn’t create an additional staff position, the mayor said.
“Prior to having a Public Works director, we had a city manager and an assistant city manager. The assistant’s primary duty was to oversee all of the city’s projects,” Joiner said.
“When we made a change in managers, we hired (then-assistant John Ward) as the manager and decided, rather than hire another assistant, we would create a Public Works (director position). So, in essence, we didn’t add more staff, we created a different position.”
Although Kidd said that his proposal wasn’t a personal attack, Councilman Roy Plott has described the move as a “vendetta” against Killip.
During the March 22 meeting, Joiner described a conversation between himself and Councilman Bosie Griffith in which Griffith said that one of his reasons for wanting to terminate his employment was because Killip was not an American citizen and that there are U.S. citizens in town who are out of work.
Griffith could not be reached by The Times for comment.
In addition to an opportunity to save money, Kidd said that the position should be eliminated because there are areas in the city — including District 3, which Kidd represents — that haven’t been maintained as well as they should be.
This isn’t the first time that Kidd and Griffith have suggested removing Killip from his position. During the council’s December voting session, where the group was acting on recommendations for department directors for this fiscal year, the two councilmen cast the only votes against rehiring Killip.
According to Joiner, barring new discussions surrounding eliminating the director’s position, the talks are “a dead issue.”
Killip declined to comment on this story.