This is to set out the reasons why I chose to resign from the Board of Commission for the JWSC and take on a new responsibility of working as the Temporary Deputy Director. I only had one more year to serve on the board and I did not plan on seeking another 4 year term. However, I did want to use all the knowledge and experience I have gained in the last 3 years to continue to benefit JWSC.
I have served on the Board for three years. Nearly nine months of that time has been as the Acting Executive Director. This was more than a full-time 40 hour week, as broken water and sewer lines often choose nights, holidays and weekends to break. This was during a crisis time at JWSC because we had lost our full-time director. JWSC is a 24 hour, 365 days per year business that could not go leaderless. Some people wanted to hire a consultant to come in to manage the JWSC. We felt that by the time they figured out what was going on we could have a new director. Some suggested using a current staff member to double up their work task. We felt that this only leads to neither job getting done properly.
Seeing this emergency problem, Commissioner Don Elliott and myself agreed to take on the task of guiding JWSC during this crisis until a new director could be hired. We both have been in leadership position in the military where we were responsible for hundreds of personnel and millions of dollars of assets and budgets. Having committed ourselves to service on the board we chose to take on the task of running the JWSC, at no compensation, until we hired a new director. This advertising, vetting, scheduling interviews and then finally contracting with the successful candidate took nearly six months. We then had to give the new director a few weeks to give his former employer notice of his taking a new job.
One of the most important things that Mr. Elliott and I learned during this period is that it is not a “one person” job. With over 140 employees, three waste water treatment plants, numerous drinking water production facilities, hundreds of miles of water and sewer lines, over 30,000 customers and a $28,000,000.00 budget, it is a job that needs constant attention.
JWSC was fortunate to hire a great new director. He is taking us into a better future. However, he is likewise taking on a big leadership task and is currently doing so by himself. The Board is pleased with his commitment, but we saw that he is also working late into the night and on weekends and is in need of immediate assistance.
Mr. Elliott and I continued going to the office on a regular basis for several weeks after Mr. Junkin came on board. This was to help him get adjusted to the new job and meet all the employees and learn our systems. But the Board has to now leave the work to the new director and Mr. Elliott and I had to go back to just being board members. Of course, our assistance is not the same as having a deputy director that works for the director. It is not within a commission member’s authority to tell the director how to do his job once he is hired. The Board’s mission is to give general guidance and set goals. How the job gets done and who he hires to get the job done is his prerogative. It is not good for a sitting commissioner to always be hanging around telling employees what to do.
From the beginning start date Mr. Junkin has had numerous critical matters to contend with that has slowed down his efforts to hire his permanent deputy director. We had just instituted an increase in Tap Fees, which stirred up several groups that had to be met with. We had just discovered numerous sewer capacity problems that curtailed the granting of tap fees in several key sewer basins. This triggered several lawsuits and numerous freedom of information request that necessitated immediate attention. We also went through a major tropical storm and a hurricane which caused damage to our system. We have been developing a large force main project on SSI that is to relieve a serious capacity problem and help settle several lawsuits. Mr. Junkin has been trying to juggle all this while at the same time trying to meet community leaders, learn all JWSC’s policies and procedures, read the 2009 and 2016 Master Plans, absorb the budget issues facing JWSC, handle personnel matters, comply with EPD consent order and start to meet all his employees.
In order to provide him with some immediate relief and full-time assistance I have resigned my commission seat and will begin work for 6 months as the Temporary Deputy Director. This will give the new director time to accomplish his goals and objectives while the Deputy Director position is being advertised. He will also have to set up and interview possible candidates. I will take on several projects which will allow Mr. Junkin to also concentrate on the several ongoing engineering projects that are getting underway, including the SPLOST projects that the voters just approved.
I will concentrate on administrative, personnel, customer service, the new backflow prevention program, code enforcement and a new college student intern program. I will also provide closer supervision and guidance to our meter readers, building maintenance projects and the marketing of the large parcel of land on Gloucester. Since I am also a retired attorney, I will continue to work closely with JWSC’s attorney on our numerous contracts, policies and procedures.
We will also have a couple of new commissioners coming on board in January. I will work on their orientation and take them on a tour of all our plants and facilities. As other needs arise, these task may change and grow.
This will allow the Director to concentrate on our big engineering projects. I will also stay on for about two weeks and bring the new deputy director up to speed so Mr. Junkin can continue to concentrate on the bigger projects and issues facing JWSC. I will not be eligible to apply for the permanent deputy director position. I will be considered a 1099 professional contract employee and I will not be receiving any employee benefits such as medical, dental or life insurance.
I look forward to continuing the work on helping JWSC remain a great place to work and improving our service in the community.
Thank you for your continued support.
– Thomas A. Boland, Sr., Deputy Director