West Allis - Officials here are in the process of digging into the city’s 2017 operating budget, and several items are coming into focus through a series of policy decisions.
The Common Council on Oct. 18, discussed two vacancies within city hall — one considered essential, the other open to debate.
At a time when budgetary constraints have become the norm for most communities across the state, some municipalities have scaled back on their resources toward forestry-related services. West Allis, however, is maintaining a status-quo approach, as evidenced by a decision at last week’s meeting.
The council has agreed to fill an upcoming vacant arborist position after staffer Dave Marchel retired from the post.
City Administrator Rebecca Grill said the city’s forestry division, which falls under the auspices of the public works department, employs a dozen arborists. She said the staffing number is linked to the 25,000 trees that line city streets, parks and boulevards.
The council’s Administration and Finance Committee, which discussed the position before the council voted last week, announced no internal candidates have surfaced, though one former intern could be in the running.
The city also is moving forward on a plan to fill a vacant finance director position. Grill announced a recommended candidate, Peggy Steeno, and the council is slated to interview her this week before formal action is taken at a November meeting.
If hired, Steeno would also assume the roles of the city’s treasurer and comptroller. She currently served as the city of Menasha’s administrative services director and previously held the role of finance director for the city of Oshkosh.
Grill said Steeno holds a number of additional strong qualifications that make her a good candidate for the position. Among them, licensure as a certified public accountant through the state. She also earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
“She possesses the energy, motivation and positive attitude needed to initiate organization efficiency and manage a critical department for the city of West Allis,” Grill said.
On the revenue side of the ledger, city officials are hoping to add funds to the budget through the sale of a retired, 31-year-old fire engine. The West Allis Fire and EMS Department decommissioned it earlier this year when a new fire engine known as a Seagrave was added to the fleet.
The department also has two unused ambulances that are being taken off the city’s books through an imminent sale.
Selling retired or surplus equipment has been a longtime practice in the city, though officials have agreed to take a different approach this go around.
“Historically, surplus vehicles of this type have been disposed of via a public auction conducted semi-annually by Milwaukee County,” Interim Finance Director Kris Moen wrote in a memo.
“While this method has accomplished the goal of timely disposing of surplus equipment, the sale prices obtained through this method have been below market value for this type of used of equipment,” Moen said.
As an alternative, Moen said Assistant Fire Chief Kurt Zellman and DPW Fleet Superintendent Jim Leu are examining a number of alternative options. One possibility entails listing the equipment on a service known as FireTec, which is a broker that specializes in the sale of used fire apparatus.