Park City engineer post, key in development matters, remains vacant
Park City intends to again hire a firm to provide the work normally assigned to the city engineer after efforts to recruit someone to fill the post have been unsuccessful, leaving open the possibility the high-level position will be vacant for longer than a year.
City Hall recently posted a request for submittals from firms interested in a contract to perform the duties of the city engineer. Proposals were due April 15 with the possibility the Park City Council will authorize a contract at a meeting on May 2.
Park City has been without a city engineer since the departure of Nestor Gallo in late September. He left for personal reasons unrelated to his performance as the city engineer after approximately five months in the post, an extraordinarily brief tenure for a staff position that ranks as high as the city engineer.
Officials opted to tap private-sector engineering firms to perform the services of a city engineer. City Hall eventually hired T-O Engineers, with offices in the Intermountain region, including in Heber City, for the services. The contract expired in early April.
City Hall conducted an unsuccessful recruitment for someone to fill the post permanently, leading the municipal government to again plan to contract the work to an outside firm. Anne Laurent, the community development director at City Hall, said it is not unusual for a municipality to rely on contracted services to fill the duties of a city engineer. Park City, though, has had a permanent city engineer position within the Marsac Building ranks for decades.
Laurent said the department has been performing “fairly well” with contracted city engineering services. There have not been delays in the work in the absence of a city engineer, she said. Three full-time staffers in the engineering division have ensured the day-to-day operations continue without interruption, she said.
“The current staff has stepped up,” Laurent said.
She acknowledged, though, staffers have not addressed policy-related issues like they would have with a permanent city engineer at the Marsac Building.
The posting seeking a firm to perform the engineering duties indicates City Hall plans a contract that covers up to one year. The posting also outlines there is a potential for two extensions of one year each, meaning the municipal government is at least considering the possibility the permanent position will be vacant for an extended period. The posting describes City Hall’s intent to spend $200,000 or less on the engineering services during the first year.
Laurent said it is unclear how long the services will be required and said any contract would include a clause allowing City Hall to end the firm’s work for the municipal government.
The reliance on an outside firm was needed after City Hall was unsuccessful in its bid to hire a permanent city engineer. Laurent said the finalists decided against leaving their current posts. Details were not available, but hiring managers in the public and private sectors have long seen Park City’s housing costs, the highest in the state, as a recruiting barrier.
Laurent said another recruitment is tentatively expected to begin in the summer with the hopes of hiring a city engineer with a start date in the fall.
The city engineer holds broad responsibilities related to growth as developers devise road and utility blueprints. A city engineer, as an example, would be heavily involved in City Hall’s plans to create an arts and culture district along Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive. The person would also have a crucial role in talks about a major development where the Park City Mountain Resort parking lots are now located.
A critic of a Park City workforce or otherwise affordable housing project in Old Town said he is considering an appeal of the Park City Planning Commission’s approval of the development.