John Breunig appointed probationary water superintendent
In a special meeting Wednesday afternoon October 31, the Water Commission filled two positions: current water operator John Breunig as “probationary water superintendent” to replace current superintendent Dave Simmons, who’s resigning effective December 1; and Jordan Ryan to fill a water operator position.
While Simmons was not present at the meeting, he recommended Breunig for the position, explaining in an email that he has trained Breunig for the role over the past seven years, and commending Breunig’s performance.
After appointing Breunig to the role, the commission went through the six-page contract draft for the water superintendent. Breunig will be acting as the superintendent for a six-month probationary period. The commission approved the contract, and voted to pay Breunig a salary of $60,000. Over the past three years his hourly range was between $47,000 and $50,000 per year, said Town Finance Director Amy Land.
Commissioner Peter McNerney made the suggestion that Breunig be required to spend about 20 hours per week at the sewer plant to acquire experience and help him obtain dual licensing in both the sewer and water plants. A lengthy debate ensued about whether or not this should be done.
Currently, Chris Blane is acting as the sewer superintendent on a six-month basis following Ray Boucher’s retirement October 1. Some water commissioners remained concerned that the sewer plant was short-staffed and would not have enough properly licensed personnel. Simmons has dual licenses for both plants.
Breunig said he could not promise to spend 20 hours per week at the sewer plant, given that he will be adjusting to a new role as well as training a new employee (Ryan). He added that the job description for the superintendent role lists the sewer plant license as “preferred” in three years. He did not answer for sure if this would happen, citing time constraints, but said that he is committed to obtaining the dual licensing and training.
At a previous sewer meeting, McNerney had suggested that the job description require the license, but commissioners had not agreed with the suggestion.
Other commissioners, including Chair Sandra Finizia, agreed that requiring Breunig to work 20 hours each week at the plant would be unreasonable. Town Manager Nancy Dodge made a suggestion from the audience, noting that this is a six-month contract and could be amended after six months if needed.
The commission also spent some time discussing the compensation of the water operator. Breunig reported that there were three applications for the job and that both he and Simmons recommended Ryan. He cited Ryan’s lengthy experience in related areas, and suggested an hourly rate of $16. McNerney pointed out that this could create unrest in other employees, as Ryan’s education level would require a pay rate of $15 based on the commission’s set of standards. Breunig and the water commission ultimately agreed, and the commission agreed to pay Ryan an hourly rate of $15.