Clovis hires city engineer

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

The city of Clovis has hired a Jacksonville, Fla., man to fill the newly created city engineer position that oversees the Public Works Department.

Justin Howalt will begin work Jan. 5, according to a Friday news release.

The city commission approved a restructuring of the Public Works Department during Thursday’s regular commission meeting, creating the engineer’s position to head the department, with the position of public works director being second in command, the release said.

Interim Public Works Director Clint Bunch will be promoted to public works director and will oversee the department until Howalt arrives, the release said.

The department has about 82 employees and is responsible for such operations as sanitation, wastewater treatment, traffic, streets and vehicle maintenance, according to city spokeswoman Claire Burroughes.

The restructuring saved about $9,000 in salary costs, she said.

The position of public works director was vacated in July when long-time director Harry Wang accepted a similar position in Las Vegas, Nev.

Howalt will receive a salary of $76,000 and Bunch was promoted at a salary of $68,000, city officials said.

At the time of his resignation, Wang was earning $75,670.

Howalt is a former Clovis resident, and a 1994 Clovis High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. According to the release, he is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and Florida and is seeking his license in New Mexico.

Bunch has been working with the city since 1997 and has been streets superintendent for six years, the release said.

As part of the restructuring, Interim Utilities Director Bill Kshir has been named assistant public works director, and the positions of construction project manager and environmental specialist have been eliminated with their responsibilities being melded with those of the public works director and assistant public works director, the release said.

Kshir’s salary will be $60,000.

In a request for approval of restructuring submitted to commissioners Thursday, City Manager Joe Thomas said by eliminating the two unfilled positions, it made it possible to bring in an engineer with no increases in personnel, and “a small decrease in overall personnel cost.”