OTTUMWA — Bill Moulder, the founder of Moulder & Associates/Midwest Municipal Consulting, told city officials they can expect to see a lot of him and his company in the coming days.
“We’ll be a constant presence around here for a while,” he said.
Moulder’s company was hired on a unanimous vote Tuesday to lead the search for a new city administrator. Former administrator Andy Morris resigned this past summer, and Mayor Tom Lazio is acting as interim administrator.
Lazio and City Attorney Joni Keith handled the initial vetting for search firms and recommended Moulder’s company. Use of search firms in finding new city administrators has been standard procedure for Ottumwa with the past several searches.
While some cities chose to handle searches for top staff in-house, bringing in a company does have some advantages. Many search firms have long lists of candidates who might be interested in jobs right from the start. They are also more familiar with advertising practices to find specialized professionals.
There is, of course, a cost to hiring an outside firm. Moulder & Associates was the lowest of the three bids Lazio and Keith received. Their bid was $14,500. The high bid was more than $21,000.
Moulder’s proposal anticipates the search will take the remainder of the year, but he plans to begin immediately. The first step is talking with city officials to find out what they really ned in an administrator.
“One of the really important aspects of this process is to really understand what the needs are, what the council and community needs are,” Moulder said. He plans to begin that process this week.
The meeting also spent time on another issue that routinely comes up for residents: the streets.
Public Works Director Larry Seals gave an overview of the city’s process for street resurfacing and replacement. “The goal of the selection process is to improve the condition of city streets,” he said, with projects that benefit the most drivers gaining a higher priority.
The current sewer separation project is weighing heavily on the city’s budget for streets and sewers. Seals said the city has spent about $68 million so far on the project, with a total estimated cost of $160 million. A major portion of the separation work looms in 2020. in fact, Tuesday’s meeting included approval of some engineering services for the Blake’s Branch portion of the project.
In other cases, outside factors play a role. Seals said the city sought state funding for the Market Street Bridge reconstruction for approximately eight years before the work was approved.
Ottumwa has about 320 lane miles of paved roads. The past five years have seen resurfacing or repaving of about 23.1 miles, in addition to pothole repairs and other work.
Mayor Pro-Tem Matt Dalbey thanked Seals for the presentation. “There aren’t a lot of towns that don’t have these same issues,” he said.