Residency requirement eyed for public works director

The Jefferson City Council may consider expanding the residency requirement for the director of public works, which would potentially allow the position to be filled internally.

At the Council Committee on Administration meeting Wednesday, Human Resources Director Gail Strope presented a proposed bill to allow the public works director to be added to a list of directors who can reside within a 15-mile radius of Jefferson City.

In May, the council approved a bill expanding residency requirements for certain department directors to a 15-mile radius around Jefferson City. But that expansion did not apply to the public works director, city administrator, city clerk, fire chief or police chief.

Interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert said the end game of the change would be to open the position to current employees. Hilpert said the city has three good candidates: Britt Smith, operations division director; David Bange, engineering supervisor; and Matt Morasch, interim public works director. Morasch has served as the interim director twice in the past few years, but has not been placed in the job full time as he lives outside city limits.

Hilpert said the change also would allow the city to eliminate the city engineer position, which is vacant. Morasch has held that position when he is not serving as interim director.

“That’s where I think we’re headed,” Hilpert said.

When the original bill was approved, 3rd Ward Councilman Ken Hussey had offered an amendment to include the public works director in the 15-mile radius, which received a tie vote. Because Mayor Eric Struemph had not been present at that meeting to break the tie, the amendment failed.

Hussey said he had concerns about bringing the new bill forward without building more of a consensus from the council around the issue.

“I think it’s awkward to bring it back and have a 5-5 vote,” Hussey said.

At the suggestion of Hilpert, the committee held off making any final decision. Hilpert said Struemph will be presenting a plan for the city’s interim positions, which include public works, the fire chief, city administrator and the finance director, and the committee could hold off taking any action until after that plan is presented.

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