ANDERSON – The superintendent of the city’s water utility received almost $21,000 in a pay increase after submitting a letter of resignation last year. The salary bump came as officials tried to stabilize the operation of the city department, officials said.
Currently, Anderson residents are facing a 47 increase in water rates. The hike is to be discussed at tonight’s Anderson City Council meeting.
City officials said Tuesday that Tom Brewer, superintendent of the Anderson Water Utility, submitted a letter of resignation last year to explore other lucrative opportunities.
Pete Heuer, chairman of the Anderson Board of Public Works, said Brewer rescinded his letter of resignation after negotiations with the city.
Brewer’s salary increased from $72,970 in 2013 to $93,700 in 2014, a 28 percent pay increase.
“We decided to keep his 30-plus years of experience,” Heuer said. “The compensation was set at the midpoint of what his peers are receiving.”
Heuer said the goal of the administration of Mayor Kevin Smith was to stabilize the operations of the water utility, something that would have proven difficult if Brewer left.
Wayne Huffman, director of human resources, said the city was faced with a problem with supervision at the water plant.
Brewer is certified by the state to operate the water utility.
“Our concern was losing Tom Brewer,” Huffman said. “There were not enough people with the certification by the state. We have been working aggressively toward increasing the number of people with the state certification.”
Since Smith took office in 2012 another five people working at the water utility have received the necessary certification and are now obtaining the three years of experience required under state guidelines.
“The dilemma was losing Tom (Brewer),” Huffman said. “It would have been a monumental task to replace him.”
Huffman said the city could have hired another superintendent with the necessary state certifications.
“By retaining Tom (Brewer) we keep the experience that he has with the local system,” he said. “He knows the system, how the system works and the way the city works.”
Huffman said it would have taken six to eight months to train a new superintendent.
He said Brewer’s 2014 salary range is at the midpoint for state certified superintendents in Indiana.
“Tom (Brewer) was almost paid the least amount of certified superintendents in the state,” Huffman said.
In a press release the Smith administration indicated that during the four-year term of former Mayor Kris Ockomon, Brewer was unable to take time off because he was the only employee with the state-required certification.
Brewer had to be either on site or on 24-hour standby, seven days a week, according to the release.
According to the city, the Ockomon administration spent $177,000 over an 18-month period to hire a contractor to allow Brewer to take time off.
“The Smith administration’s goal is to create and attract new jobs and businesses to Anderson,” the release said. “A safe and reliable water supply is an imperative component of economic development and Anderson’s future growth.”
Currently the Anderson Economic Development Department is in discussions with three potential brewers of craft beers and a food processing plant about locating in Anderson based on the quality and quantity of the city’s water supply.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.
Tom Brewer, superintendent of the Anderson Water Utility, received a 28 percent salary increase to stay in Anderson. Pay climbed by $20,730 for 2014 to $93,699.84. More water utility workers now have required state certification as plant operators.