Victoria Building Mugs

Victoria County commissioners meet in the Victoria County Courthouse at 115 N. Bridge St.

Victoria County soon will have an engineer/project manager.

County commissioners on Monday approved a decision to restructure the county’s Administrative Services Department to add the new role. The resulting structure eliminates the Director of Administrative Services position, makes human resources a standalone department and adds the engineer/project manager position.

“I think the change really tailors our structure, and our leadership, to the needs of the county going forward, rather than simply looking to how we’ve always done things before,” County Judge Ben Zeller said.

The licensed engineer/project manager will assist departments across the county as well as manage and assist with projects and county activities, Zeller said.

The plan to restructure began after Joyce Dean, the previous Director of Administrative Services, resigned from the job in February. Dean was arrested in December by a sheriff’s deputy on a theft by a public service charge, which was later dismissed.

Zeller said Monday that when Dean left, he spent time examining what the county’s needs were going forward before hiring someone else for the position.

The vacancy created by Dean’s departure coincided with a vacancy in the health department after Tammy Fikac, the floodplain manager and deputy assistant director in the department, left earlier this year as well, Zeller said.

The salary for the vacant health department role will be used to move a part-time sanitation inspector to full-time and provide the health department with an environmental administrative secretary, he said.

Weighing the open positions with the “longstanding discussion and preference of the court to add an engineering position,” Zeller said it looked like an opportunity to redesign the county’s Administrative Services Department. With the new engineer/project manager position, Dean’s duties will essentially be divided three ways, he said, and the overall rearrangement will affect about six people.

First, human resources will transition to a standalone department that reports to the commissioner’s court. Gina Howard, the current interim human resources director, will transition to be the human resources director, Zeller said.

Next, the engineer/project manager will work with departments on projects, engineering needs and county activities. Zeller said the new position will not interfere with Kelly Hubert, the county’s facilities manager, but will “be a resource to Kelly.”

The duties of the engineer/project manager will also include some the duties of the previous floodplain manager, Zeller said, including the oversight of county development subdivision standards.

Finally, all administrative and additional duties will fall upon Caitlin Weinheimer, special assistant to Zeller. Weinheimer will receive a new title, chief of staff, and her budgeted salary going forward will be $54,080, up from her current budgeted salary of $47,840.

“HR should be its own department, engineering and project management is its own unique role and skill set, and having a lot of the administrative functions in my office is only appropriate,” Zeller said. “I think this aligns things to how they should be.”

County Commissioner Kevin Janak said he thinks having an engineer on staff will best allow current and future needs of the county to be addressed. With Monday’s approval of the position, the process to fill the new role will begin immediately.

“The future is really what we are building on with this position, and with that, it is going to make the county stronger than we are today,” he said.

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter

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Local Government Reporter

Morgan Theophil covers local government for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6511, mtheophil@vicad.com or on Twitter.

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