Local News

Council mixed on qualification for next utility director

LAKE PLACID - Should the town's next utility director be primarily a field supervisor or an administrator?

The town council has mixed opinions on the issue as the search begins to replace Gary Freeman, who will retire in November.

At a recent council meeting, Town Administrator Phil Williams said they have has received a few applications for the position. He intends to review the applicants with the help of a committee, so there are more opinions in the selection process.

Freeman, Councilman Steve Bastardi and Lake Placid Regional Utility Advisory Chairman Jon Draper will sit on the committee.

Bastardi said there was a suggestion a "field supervisor" should oversee the day-to-day operations, and an administrator, at the highest level, would handle the regulatory issues and the responsibilities of operating the department.

Councilwoman Debra Worley told Highlands Today recently that she believed the town needed an operator rather than another administrative person because they have Williams.

Worley explained the town did not need an engineer with no field experience who would not know how to run the town's utilities.

"I do think we need somebody who is 'operator strong' and can help with the administration," she said.

Councilman Ray Royce, who disagreed with Worley, said: "I think it's critical that we get an administrator.

"As we found out in the last several years, our strength right now is not in budgeting and long-term planning. I think, especially, as we continue to grow this utility, it is going to be important to have a individual whose strength is in planning and budgeting and understanding finance and those kinds of things," he said.

The utility department, which will likely grow, has a budget close to $2.5 million.