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A Bloomington Public Works crew loads lumber that was put out for bulk waste pickup this month in the 1900 block of Privet Lane. The city is looking at ways to improve efficiencies in the public works and water departments; details will be released Monday. 

BLOOMINGTON — Changes are coming to the city's public works and water departments, but details, including the possibility that they may merge, won't be shared until Monday.

City Manager Tim Gleason said the agenda for the City Council's committee-of-the-whole meeting will include "an unexpected organizational opportunity that I think is very good for the city." 

He said that out of respect for the council, he wanted to discuss it there before going public with details.

"I am not going to confirm or deny the merger of two departments," he told The Pantagraph on Thursday. "It is my understanding if that was to be the case, it would not require council approval, but if I get to that point I would have to dig deeper to make sure that no council action is required."

Mayor Tari Renner said he is receptive to merging the departments if that is what Gleason ultimately proposes.

"I can confirm that we have had conversations about the two departments combining, but we have spoken about lots of different possible changes and this is just one of them. I certainly support that," he said. "If Mr. Gleason is supporting that then I would support him."

Jim Karch, who has headed the public works department since June 2009, and Bob Yehl, who has headed the water department since 2015, were not available for comment Thursday.

The city had been looking for a water director since Yehl notified the city in May that he wanted to step down after three years. He asked to stay on as an engineer in the public works department, but agreed to remain as water director until his replacement was hired. 

Yehl previously said he was stepping down because he wanted more time to spend with his family.

Communication Manager Nora Dukowitz on Thursday called Yehl a "valuable part of this organization."

Renner said Thursday the search for a new water director was put on hold until after a new city manager was hired. Gleason was hired on July 23 to succeed former City Manager David Hales, who resigned in November to take a similar job with the city of Joliet.

"I think the assumption was that we wouldn't make any movement until the new city manager was in the saddle," said Renner, adding that he had not received an update about whether the water director search was resuming.

Yehl, who was hired in 2013 by Bloomington as an assistant city engineer, was approached by city officials to become the new water director in September 2015 after Patrick Ryan resigned in May 2015 after just eight days on the job. 

Ryan resigned two days after he was placed on paid administrative leave while the city conducted an investigation into allegations of potential misconduct and violation of city discrimination and harassment policies.

Yehl was expected to return to the public works department to fill a vacant engineer II position after his stint heading the water department. 

Yehl previously was employed by Farnsworth Group as an engineering manager and AECOM as senior project engineer.

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Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle


Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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