The decision, discussed between Koehne and the CSD Board in a closed session late last month, was announced at the regular CSD meeting on July 1.
The move is part of an overall restructuring of the district’s management staff, said CSD President Ray Tetreault, and will include the hiring of new general manager as well as a possible new landscaping director and office manager.
Koehne, who has been with the district for more than a decade, has been serving as both the general manager and water and wastewater manager for years, but as the district has grown, so has the workload.
“The CSD has changed from having just a GM (general manager) handling all the items to the larger operation it is today,” said Tetreault. “One man can’t do all this … we think that Virgil is the man for water and sewer.”
“This is in no way indicative of saying Virgil can’t handle the job (of GM),” said CSD Director Shannon Murphy-Teixeira. “They (water and general manager) are two huge jobs to split up and we just can’t split Virgil anymore.”
Tetreault said Koehne’s move from GM to water and wastewater manager would not affect him financially.
“We will take nothing away from Virgil,” he said in a recent phone interview. “This position fits him immensely; I would never want him (Virgil) to not be a part of this district. I think we are moving in the right direction in a way that will best serve the needs of the district and the town.”
Koehne’s passion for the water and wastewater side of the town is well known, and he says he is in agreement with the board’s recommendations. “I love that area (water and wastewater) it’s my expertise and it’s what I enjoy doing,” said Koehne. “I am definitely interested in that end of things.”
Tetreault was given authorization by the board – at the same meeting – to hire an outside firm to assist in the search for a new general manager. The process could take months, so per CSD law, which states the town must employ a general manager, Koehne will remain as GM until a replacement is chosen.
But while Koehne agreed that the restructuring of the town’s management is a positive step, he was frank in addressing what he considers the board’s lack of response to his repeated requests for benefits for his present staff: “I am currently frustrated with the board. We (staff) try to move things forward and we get pushed back (regarding benefits).
“None of our staff has any benefits, and we have not seen anything back from the board as it relates to benefits, even though we presented some options back in January.”
Koehne’s dissatisfaction increased after the board agreed during the same meeting to offer benefits as part of a recruiting package to the new general manager.
“What really hurt me and my staff is that they (board) talked about getting another manager and getting a recruiter and they talked about offering benefits for that,” he said. “We had talked about benefits in January and they haven’t done anything about it.
“I am disappointed in the board for the decision to bring in a manager with benefits and not thinking about the current staff. To me that was very disturbing and very disrespectful.”
Tetreault said the subject of employee benefits would certainly be addressed. “It’s my contention that the new person who comes in would come up with a plan as far as benefits go. That’s how I see it.”
Tetreault added in a later phone interview that “this move (hiring a new GM) was crucial to starting off the whole (restructuring) plan. We have had it (benefits) in the back of our heads and knew when we started the restructuring that benefits would be his (new GM’s) show. It will all be looked at.”