Miller Engineers Room For The Next Generation

Paul Bass PhotoCity government’s top engineer found a way to attract some new blood and tech know-how into his shop: Rewrite a job description.

The city engineer, Dick Miller, recently rewrote the description after the only applicants for a job opening in his department were professionals with decades of experience but not necessarily much familiarity with the latest tools. He decided New Haven needs to “widen opportunities” in government to include “people who are graduating from college and are going to pursue civil engineering.”

“When I was going in, I had a slide rule,” said Miller, who has served as government’s top engineer for the past 17 years.

New Haven’s Civil Service Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Miller’s rewritten job description for an opening that was previously called “project engineer.” New title: “Municipal civil engineer.”

The old description required applicants to have obtained a professional engineer’s license. The new one doesn’t. Miller said his office has had good experiences with college interns, some of whom have better facility with new technology like AutoCAD design software. The new job description requires familiarity with such tools as well as an engineering-in-training certificate, which aspiring engineers usually obtain at the end of their college careers.

The job in question pays between $46,000 and around $55,000, depending on applicants’ years of job experience, Miller said.

A No Vote On Outreach Worker

In a separate matter at Tuesday’s meeting, the Civil Service Commission failed to approve a different requested job description change—to modify an AIDS prevention outreach worker’s position to a more general health promotion outreach position.

That’s partly because the health department’s is looking to have broader outreach, said Scott Nabel of City Hall’s Office of Labor Relations. The commissioners expressed no problem with that.

But some balked at another part of the requested change: to allow the outreach worker to spend a few hours a week signing up people for Elm City Resident municipal ID cards.

What does that have to do with health care? asked Commissioner James Williams (pictured).

The city’s vital statistics bureau handles the ID cards, and vital statistics falls under the health department, Nabel replied. The health department already has workers spend a few hours a week on the ID card registrations because demand is too low to justify hiring someone full-time to do it, he said. The ID card registration process does not involve asking people about sensitive health information, Nabel said.

“I still don’t feel comfortable with that,” Williams replied. “You’re still talking about health and ID-ing people,” which he called unrelated tasks.

The commissioners voted 2 in favor, 2 against the suggested change, with one abstention, meaning it didn’t pass.

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