CALUMET CITY | Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush wants city government to restore its old leadership structure for the city departments that oversee maintenance of streets, alleys, water and sewers.
All of those entities were merged into the control of one commissioner, with assorted deputies to assist him, a few years ago in a cost-cutting measure.
But the mayor said Tuesday during a Finance Committee hearing that she thinks putting all of those areas under one person is too much work.
“That’s pretty big for one guy to handle,” she said.
In presenting her budget proposal for the current fiscal year, she calls for providing salaries of $79,418 each for a commissioner for streets and alleys, and another commissioner for water and sewer.
Each of those commissioners would have a working foreman to assist.
“That’s exactly the way it was before (the City Council) created the departments,” Qualkinbush said. “We’re going back to the old way.”
Aldermen did not oppose Qualkinbush’s proposed change, although they corrected her original suggestion — which was to have two working foremen under each commissioner.
Sixth Ward Alderman Nick Manousopoulos said he was concerned there would be too many higher-ranking people in the two departments, although he eventually was satisfied there would only be one foreman for each commissioner.
The Qualkinbush budget proposal reviewed by the City Council does not add any other staff to those departments, nor is any money put aside for pay raises aside for those already called for by union contracts.
Qualkinbush also proposed more funding for tree removal. The past fiscal year saw each of the seven aldermen given control of $1,500 to cover the cost of tree removal within their wards.
Qualkinbush proposed an increase to $6,000 per alderman for the fiscal year that began May 1 and runs through April 30, 2014.
“We have a lot of requests, and don’t have the manpower now to handle all of them,” she said.
City officials have until the end of the month to approve a budget for the current fiscal year. Officials scheduled another Finance Committee session for July 24 for further budget review, although Finance Chairwoman Magdalena “Leni” Wosczynski said more hearings might be scheduled before then.
Also on Tuesday, the City Council presented birthday cupcakes with lit candles for City Clerk Nyota Figgs.
Although she would not give her age, Qualkinbush — who has been a part of Calumet City government since 1977 — said, “I’ve been working here longer than she is old.”