Confusion continues over general manager job description at CPUD

Samantha P. Hawthorne
Staff Writer

Expressing his dissatisfaction over another delay in hiring a general manager for the Chester Public Utilities District, board chairman Joe Waterman said he did not agree with the outcome of the Sept. 19 special meeting.

Waterman did not attend the special meeting that was held for a board vote on making two small revisions to the general manager’s job description.

He said had he been there, he would not have voted to approve the revisions. The revisions entailed removing “fire chief” from the job title and adding an education and experience requirement that allows for applications to be considered from people with experience equivalent to a four-year degree.

The board consensus at the time was that the job description veered more toward requirements for a general manager, and having “fire chief” in the title was superfluous. It was clarified at the Oct. 7 meeting that while the title was removed, the general manager would take on fire chief responsibilities and act in the interest of the entire district.

The board said the change in experience and education requirements was an attempt to widen the applicant pool. In favor of the change, volunteer firefighter Steve Trotter previously said he did not believe that applicants with four-year degrees necessarily make better candidates than those with equivalent experience.

Waterman pointed out that this is the third time the district has advertised for a general manager since the position opened. He said that twice he was asked why CPUD is struggling with hiring a new manager.

“We are responsible to the public to provide basic services: fire, water and sewer,” Watterman said. “A delay in doing that is counterproductive.”

A public member inquired what the board thought was most important when interviewing a candidate for the position: someone with training in water or fire management, or both.

Director John Knopp said, “We are going to try and hire the most qualified person we can, who has an administration background and can at least cover some of the basics. The person who comes with the strongest representation will be offered the job, and it is paramount that this person have a strong administration background.”

Another member of the public spoke to Waterman’s concern, saying she did not think changing the job description was a bad thing. “We had over 30 years of bad general managers,” the woman said. “It is important we get it right this time around and hire a good general manager instead of settling on a bad one.”

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