Vacancies in county engineer’s office haven’t slowed down public projects

Despite the fact that the county’s largest department is currently without either a leader or deputy, county projects remain on schedule, according to a county spokeswoman.

Civil-service engineers and others in the county Department of Public Works have continued working to keep county projects on schedule, said Vida Mossman, acting county public information officer.

The county engineer’s office has been vacant of engineers since spring of last year, when former County Engineer Cesar Portugal accepted the civil-service position of head of the county DPW’s Engineering Division opened up when Ken Kitabayashi retired.

Then-Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and members of her administration made a decision not to try to find a new county engineer with just five months left in her second and final term, knowing that person may serve only for five months before a new mayor was elected in November.

Instead, Deputy County Engineer Ian Costa was named acting county engineer. But he left DPW recently to head the county Planning Department.

That leaves neither a county engineer nor deputy, nor anyone acting in those capacities, in the county engineer’s office. Mayor Bryan Baptiste continues his search for that pivotal department head, and deputy, Mossman said.

Baptiste has said on many occasions that it is very difficult to find a registered engineer, as the County Charter requires the county engineer to be, willing to take the sizable pay cut to be head of DPW.

The task doubled when Costa took the Planning Department position vacated by Dee Crowell.

Because Costa is not a licensed engineer, he was not eligible to be named permanent county engineer.

In the interim, anything requiring an engineer’s signature has been signed by Portugal.

According to the County Charter, the county engineer shall be appointed by and may be removed by the mayor.

“He shall be a registered engineer and shall have had a minimum of five years of training and experience in an engineering position, at least three years of which shall have been in a responsible administrative capacity,” the charter states.

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