CALUMET CITY | The City Council gave its approval to Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush’s nomination of Gerry Surufka to serve as head of the city’s Water & Sewer Department.
By a 7-0 vote, the council on Tuesday decided to put Surufka in charge of the water department. He previously had been deputy commissioner of the Public Works Department.
The council also had been scheduled to consider an appointment to head the Public Works Department, although 1st Ward Alderman Eric Schneider said Qualkinbush withdrew her choice causing aldermen to postpone action to a future, unspecified, meeting.
That decision means that existing Public Works Commissioner Nick Yovkovich will remain in the post until the mayor and aldermen take action on an appointment.
The split undoes actions taken by the City Council three years ago that merged the Public Works and Water & Sewer departments into one city agency.
It was thought at the time that the merger, along with a merger of the Economic Development and Housing departments, would save the city money.
Instead, city officials concluded earlier this year that it had created work loads that were large and unmanageable. The City Council decided in July to separate the two departments into four.
“We put them back to improve the efficiency and accountability of those departments,” Schneider said.
As for the Community and Economic Development/Housing department situation, Director James Gigliotti was put in charge of the housing department back in August, while city officials continue to look for a new person to take over the Economic Development Department.
The City Council last month hired consultant Heidi Voorhees. She is being paid $12,500 for a seven-week process to find qualified applicants for the director’s position.
Those candidates would then be interviewed by the City Council and the mayor, who will make the final decision as to who gets the position.
Officials have said they hope to have a person in place by next month, although no action has yet publicly been taken in that direction.