Sawyer out as city's public works boss

After just 10 months on the job, Norwalk Public Works Director James Sawyer left his job as the city's engineer Monday. Sawyer did not return a phone call from the Reflector this morning.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

After just 10 months on the job, Norwalk Public Works Director James Sawyer left his job as the city's engineer Monday.

Sawyer did not return a phone call from the Reflector this morning.

"I'm sorry the position did not work out for Jim," Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch said. "It certainly is a big job with many administrative and technical duties. I wish Jim the very best of luck."

Sawyer became Norwalk's first public works director last January. The position of director was created in 2006 after the city learned Ralph Seward, who served as public works coordinator for many years, would retire this year.

Sawyer, 53, and a graduate of Purdue University, has spent 16 of his 27 years as an engineer in the public sector. He came to Norwalk from a private consulting job in Chippewa Lake in Medina County.

Sawyer was hired in January so he could shadow Seward before his April retirement and get up to speed on city projects and departments. Sawyer's salary was about $70,000 and Seward's salary for his last year was about $53,000.

Lesch said Seward's responsibility was the city's capital improvement projects. Sawyer's responsibilities included those projects, but also all other public works departments water treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment and collection, streets, street lighting and signals and zoning.

"We also changed the position to include a civil engineering degree," Lesch said. The director's position also required applicants to have a valid engineer's license, 10 years experience as an engineer and five years of management experience.

Lesch said when the new position was created that the higher salary was tough to swallow, but the city expected to save money by putting an experienced engineer in charge of the city's public works.

She said plans could be reviewed internally instead of being sent out to an engineer. "There should be significant savings," Lesch said.

The city spent about $47,000 in 2005 on engineering contracts. Seward said last year when the position was created that about two-thirds of that could be saved if the city had a licensed engineer.

Lesch said she hopes the city can hire another engineer as public works director by the first of next year. "I anticipate it will take us a couple of months," she said, because the city has to advertise in professional publications.

Comments

$$$ (Anonymous)

that's a whole lotta dough!there must be a better way to save some money!$70,000-that's more than some people pay for their home!!!!!!!!that's crazy!I guess Norwalk must be flowing in money to afford that salary!!!

WhenSueAttacks ...

or maybe that headstrong mayor of ours pushed this guy over the edge. im getting sick of this mayor acting like the queen of norwalk, get over yourself lady!

Observer (Anonymous)

Jimmy, we hardly knew ye.

bucks (Anonymous)

he saved the city approximately 100,000 by hiring a local
company to provide the inspection services for the Corwin street sewer project. let's see and his salary was 70,000. You do the math.

a boy named sue...

Let the qualified people run their departments.
STOP the micro managing.

witch (Anonymous)

What was ralph doing following Jim Sawyer around in recent weeks. It's halloween someone must have been on a witch hunt.

santa (Anonymous)

looks like santa claus is coming back to town

queen (Anonymous)

all hail her majesty the queen

sugar (Anonymous)

the mayor is sugar coating the truth when she said "I'm
sorry the position did not work out for Jim." She should have said I'm sorry I didn't leave Jim alone to do the job in which he was hired to do.