Omaha Council Could Approve Higher Pay for Civil Engineers

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June 29th, 2016

The Omaha City Council meets Tuesdays at 2pm. (Photo by Ryan Robertson)

The Omaha City Council meets Tuesdays at 2pm. (Photo by Ryan Robertson)

During their regular Tuesday meeting, Omaha City Council members discussed a measure to raise salaries for City engineers. KVNO’s Ryan Robertson was at the meeting and filed this report.


In their last meeting before the July 4th Holiday, Council members once again found themselves discussing the construction of another storage facility. Dragon Storage is proposing a new facility northwest of 180th and Harrison Streets, in the Falcon Ridge subdivision.

 

In a previous meeting, Councilman Rich Pahls expressed concern about the location and layout of the facility, as well as what type of materials would be used to build it. But in the end, the Council unanimously approved the plan.

Omaha’s Dundee neighborhood was the benefactor of several actions taken Tuesday. The Council approved several items to move along the development of the Dundee Flats project at 49th & Dodge streets. Construction on the new mixed-use building is slated to begin in August.

Restaurateur/developer William Theisen was also at Tuesday’s meeting. Theisen was seeking the Council’s approval on a liquor license for his latest venture Paragon Dundee, located inside a new multi-million dollar mixed-use building near 51st Street and Underwood Avenue.

“This building is quite a commitment to our community and to Dundee,” Theisen said. “I might mention that every square inch of that building is leased, happily.”

Theisen described Paragon as the brain child of himself and Chef Jon Rea, formerly of M’s Pub in the Haymarket, which burned down this past winter.

“What a tragic story that was earlier this year,” Theisen said. “About three weeks afterwards, I contacted [Rea] and he said ‘I can talk to you about this as soon as I get all of my kitchen help employed.’”

 Theisen said Paragon Dundee will feature “delta, tidewater, Charleston-type food.” It’s set to open in mid-August.

The Council approved several more liquor license applications Tuesday, including one for the 8th Annual MAHA music festival which will be Saturday August 20th in Aksarben Village’s Stinson Park.

Council Members unanimously approved their consent agenda items and then began discussing ordinances on second reading; one of which would raise the pay range for the City’s civil engineers.

According to Public Works, there are nine advertised job openings for civil engineers, but the offered pay isn’t offering enough in to hire anyone.

Todd Pfitzer of Public Works said, “ It is a dire need, and that’s how it was presented to our HR Department. I would date back to 2013 probably when we started to lose people. It was about the time the economy recovered from 2009. The consulting engineering firms started to pick back up their business in development communities. [Public Works] started to lose people then and through attrition and retirement we’ve been unable to replace a lot of those folks.”

 Public Works is proposing an 8-13 percent pay raise for the city’s civil engineers. If approved, however, civil engineers working for the City would still make 10-15 percent less than their privately employed peers.

Mikki Frost, Omaha’s director of Human Resources, told the Council while the pay would still be less than in the private sector, the proposed salary increase for civil engineers would make Omaha more competitive in hiring.

Frost said, “If you look at total compensation, the City has a more generous benefits package and a pension plan that the private sector does not have. So in terms of total compensation, it makes us much more competitive with the private sector and with our comparable cities.”

Since the ordinance to raise the pay for civil engineers was only on its second reading, the Council took no action.

They could vote on the issue when they re-convene on July 12th.

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