Rochester looking to hire in-house civil engineer

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 27, 2018

ROCHESTER — Rochester is booming with new development.

That and approximately $40 million in water and sewer projects within the next 20 years, and $2 million or more per year in roadwork, have left city administrators with plenty of work to do.

So much so that City Manager Blaine Wing is looking to hire the city’s first in-house civil engineer to assist Department of Public Works Director Shannon Filarecki, who has become bogged down with paperwork.

“Based on our increased infrastructure projects — water, sewer, roads, alleys, et cetera — as well as the additional development that we have coming online during the next several years, I’m recommending seeking the authority to hire a civil engineer who would directly report to our public works director,” Wing said.

Filarecki has her hands full.

“Right now I have eight engineers that I am dealing with at (Johnson & Anderson), four people that I am dealing with at (Anderson, Eckstein & Westrick) and two people that I am dealing with at Spicer (Group). Every single one of those people produce documents that I have to review … to make sure that the city is being taken care of properly and that we don’t miss anything,” she said.

On Feb. 12, Wing presented the recommendation to the City Council, and council members voted 6-1 to give city administration the authority to post the position. Mayor Pro Tem Kim Russell was the lone no vote.

While nearly everyone on the Rochester City Council agreed that the help is needed, some said that administrators had put the cart before the horse — asking for permission to post the position without offering information such as a job description or a projected cost savings.  

“I support that we need this, and I will support this going forward, but to me ... this is just thrown together. … It just doesn’t seem like the proper way that we need information presented to us so we can analyze it,” Councilman Stuart Bikson said.

Russell said she also saw the need for relief, but she still had some questions about what relief the position would provide city staff, and she wanted information about potential cost savings.

“Shannon needs relief. Truthfully, we’ve never had engineering at the DPW, and it’s probably smart that we do. … It just seems like we are jumping ahead of the process here,” Russell said. “So many times we come up to this table and we feel such an urgency that we do not need to have. We need to take a breath, in my opinion … and flesh it out.”

Others, like Councilwoman Ann Peterson, voiced their support for getting a jump on the process.

“All of us who sit up here are very well aware of how much development has come into our community, how short-handed we have been, how many things have been left undone in the past, and how we are sitting here with an urgent need because of the magnitude of the projects and the problems that we are facing regarding the whole entire infrastructure that was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back in knowing how much more we were needing another person here. I have been coming to council meetings for 10 years, and I feel that we are very short-staffed in our community,” she said. “I do know that with everything we have gone through and how we have evolved, I think that we probably should have had somebody like this on staff a couple of years back, before some of this major growth took place. Probably back when we started talking about all the sewer infrastructure that we have going on.”

The full-time civil engineer position was officially posted Feb. 20, with an application due date of April 6. Wing said interviews will tentatively take place in April, with a conditional job offer slated for May. He said the position will pay anywhere from $53,622 to $72,981, with benefits.

“For me, this is giving a much-needed resource to our Department of Public Works. It is going to help out Shannon, but it is also going to help out our Building Department. We have had some improvements that we are working toward, and this position will also help us see the processes and procedures into the future,” Wing said. “With the schedule that we have, if we pushed this back another month, that’s 60 days that I am having to apply pressure to a public works director that I feel is beyond where I should be pushing her.”

City administrators were directed to provide the council with more information — including the final job description, any cost savings and other details — at an upcoming council meeting.

Those interested in applying are asked to send a résumé, a cover letter, contact information for three professional references, and a completed application to Holly Meyers, HR generalist, 400 Sixth St., Rochester, MI 48307; or fax the required documents to (248) 609-0192; or email them to