Havre Daily News
The president of Havre's public works union said Tuesday the Havre Public Works Department has not filled two vacancies and that some city work is not being done.
Oscar DeLaRosa, who is employed by the Public Works Department, said the city is not replacing some valves in its water distribution system and is not performing maintenance on sewer lift stations.
Havre public works director Dave Peterson said DeLaRosa is not in a managerial position and does not know what work is being done by the city.
“It's not their business and it's not anybody else's what we do here,” he said, adding that he would not comment further on what city work is being done.
DeLaRosa said he is not trying to cause problems. He said he is concerned about the level of staffing in the department.
There are supposed to be 19 service workers, including mechanics, DeLaRosa said. With the vacant positions, the department is down to 17 workers, he said. The vacancies occurred when workers quit, he and Peterson said.
Due to workers taking time off, there have been some days when only nine employees were out doing city work, DeLaRosa said. That includes the mechanics, two truck drivers and the street sweeper operator.
“They're running everybody short,” DeLaRosa said. “Why they're not hiring, I don't know.”
Peterson said he has not made a decision on when the positions will be filled.
DeLaRosa said some water valves in the city's distribution system need to be replaced. Those valves allow city workers to shut down the flow of water when there is a water main break. Failing to replace those valves means that the city will sometimes have to cut off water to multiple city blocks instead of just one block near the break, DeLaRosa said.
“If we have a bad winter and we have a lot of water breaks, that's going to be an issue,” he said.
He also said maintenance work on sewer lift stations is not being done.
One city worker, who used to work weekdays, was injured last year. When he came back on the job, he was put on the weekend shift, DeLaRosa said. His weekday position was not filled, he added.
Peterson said “it was just our decision to do that.”
Mayor Bob Rice could not be reached for comment today.