Wednesday November 26, 2014

City Manager is set to retire

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After just about a decade as Yorkton’s City Manager, David Putz has announced his retirement.

Putz said it is something he has considered for some time and when his wife took a position in Saskatoon, it was time.

“We had talked about it about a year before. If she wanted to make a move I’d follow her instead of her following me as has been the case in the past,” said Putz, who will leave the corner office at City Hall later this month.

Putz said that, at just more than nine years, his time in Yorkton has been “the longest I’ve been in one position my entire career,” adding he has moved a lot because he wanted to stay fresh in his job. “I’ve always looked for new challenges, as a result of that I’ve never been in the same position too long.”

Asked if municipal managers have a ‘shelf-life’ where they should move on, Putz said he thought that to be “a personal situation.” He added he at times, heard of people in his position becoming dissatisfied in their jobs, something he avoided because he “always looked for other challenges to keep me going.”

So for a man seeking challenges, what does Putz, who has served under four different mayors, see as his biggest during his tenure with the City of Yorkton?

“Dealing with the flood in 2010,” he said, adding the damages caused at the time caught the city somewhat unprepared. He said “at that point in time we really hadn’t had a chance to … look at our infrastructure to understand what sort of capacity we had.”

The flood was a wake-up call for the City, idemtifying “issues that needed to be addressed,” in terms of dealing with major rain events. “… It helped us idetify a number of issues in the city.”

The response also led Putz to take what he termed his biggest risk as City Manager. He said without having engineering reports to back-up his idea, he suggested to Council they purchase hoe propertoes along Brodie Avenue with the plan to construct the first storm water retention pond in the city.

Council agreed and engineers eventually confirmed the idea was a good one.

The flood was an impetus for the City to create a long term plan encompassing retention ponds, ditches, and new storm water lines, which so far has cost the City nearly $20 million over the past five years and it will be “another 10 to 15 years before it (the plan) will be able to be fully implemented,” offered Putz.

Beyond dealing with water, Putz has been with the City through a significat time of growth, including the arrival of two canola crushing plants, a new fire hall, water treatment plant, and significant business growth.

As well there is the new Parkland College Trades and Technology Centre being built currently in the city.

“We really can’t guage what kind of impact it will have going forward, but whatever the impact is, it’s going to be positve,” offered Putz.

So was there something Putz would have liked to have seen accomplished in his time, but won’t get to see?

“We didn’t get the Broadway (Street) project funded, and under way,” he said.

Putz said the project is reliant on federal government funding through the Canada Builds Program and while far outside City control, he sees redoing the City’s main street as critical to the future of Yorkton.

“It’s an issue of infrastructure,” he said, adding Braodway “is a significant aspect of our infrastrucuture.”

Putz said in redoing the street, the City will be able to install larger storm water pipes to better handle heavy rain events, and install larger sewer and water lines so when growth comes “it can be accommodated.

“I see that as a major need for the city moving forward.”

Being ready to accommodate growth is important, said Putz. He added, when LDM approached the City they were able to sit down and in two weeks have “a framework for an agreement.”

Putz said investment dollars are fluid, and can easily move to other projects in other communities if getting a deal bogs down.

“The ability to respond to opportunities when they come to your door is very important these days,” he said, adding he believes the City of Yorkton is in a position “to do something very quickly” should another LDM coming knocking.

It is expected the City could hire Putz’s replacement soon, with an eye to having them in place by September.

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