The Common Council on Wednesday approved the same 2008 spending plans that it presented to the public a week ago.

Bottom line: A $12,000 pay raise for Utilities Director Michael W. Diel is not included in the sewer budget.

Fourth Ward Alderman Patrick Schrader tried going to bat for a last-minute reinsertion of the raise Tuesday, but he dropped it early Wednesday after Mayor Michael Tucker promised he’d veto the whole sewer budget over it.

“You don’t arbitrarily jack on $12,000 without a plan,” Tucker said. “(Diel) is a valuable guy with a lot to offer, but we haven’t had a conversation about where the department is going.”

Schrader pressed for the raise to encourage Diel, a 38-year employee, to put off retirement and commit in writing to train his successor and teach others about the inner workings of the city’s water and sewer systems. He’d said on Tuesday that Diel wanted to work three more years, but none of the other aldermen or Tucker had spoken with Diel enough to know what his aims were.

Tucker said he met with Diel on Wednesday afternoon — and Diel informed him he’s planning to file for state retirement effective Dec. 31.

“Now we’ve got some decisions to make,” Tucker said.

Tucker said he told Diel personally that he wasn’t in favor of the raise and Diel accepted it.

They talked about possible scenarios, including Diel returning as a consultant or contractor if needed or, Tucker said, amending the budget at a later date to provide Diel an incentive to stay if that’s what ends up being the best thing.

The utilities director is the day-to-day top supervisor of the water, wastewater and compost plants. Compost supervisor John Dwyer is retiring this week. While Director of Water Operations Paula Sattelberg runs the filtration plant, Diel runs the wastewater treatment plant in addition to supervising the others, Tucker said.

The 2008 sewer budget predicts $4.17 million in operating cost, and the water budget predicts $3.8 million in operating cost. Both operations are financed from water and sewer charges, which are not expected to be raised next year, according to Schrader.

The budget for the 2008 general fund, which covers all other city operations, is $21.5 million. Nearly $10 million of that will be raised from property tax; the tax rate is $15.69 per $1,000 of assessed value, up 4 cents from the current rate.

Contact reporter Joyce Miles at 439-9222, ext. 6245.

Trending Video

Recommended for you