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Springfield starts move to hire new public works chief
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The city of Springfield hopes to fill a hole in its staff with the hiring of a public works director.

Council members have approved establishing the position of public works director, which has been vacant for several years. City Manager Brett Bennett said the most recent public works director retired not long after he came on board.

“There are a lot of things going lacking, simply because the city manager doesn’t have time to do it,” said council member Charles Hinely.

City council members also will determine which local projects they want funded by the potential proceeds of the proposed transportation sales tax.

Voters will decide July 31 if they want to enact the one-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects. If it is approved — the measure can be approved on a regional basis and not necessarily statewide — the penny tax is expected to raise more than $1.6 billion over 10 years. The tax will end after 10 years, and 75 percent of the total raised will be directed toward a project list already approved.

The remaining 25 percent will be divided among the communities in the region, in this case, those that are part of the Coastal Regional Commission. That 25 percent will be disbursed based on a formula using population and road miles.

The transportation advisory board is trying to put together a list of what each entity will spend out of its share of the discretionary revenues.

“The idea is to name specific projects so when the public goes to vote, they’ll know what they’re voting on,” Bennett said.

Bennett estimated Springfield’s share will top $100,000 a year, under the current projections.

That amount won’t fund a major project, he said.

“Over 10 years, it is a fairly large number,” Bennett added. “But that’s over 10 years.”

Such work as resurfacing, road striping and signage falls into a gray area, according to Bennett, as do drainage projects.

“We’ve got some streets that need attention,” said council member Kenny Usher.

“We’ve got some drainage, resurfacing and sidewalks we need,” said Hinely, “so $100,000 won’t go far.”

Answers on if the money can go toward streetscape projects have been conflicting, Bennett said.

“I have two different answers if it can be used on streetscapes. As far as stand-alone streetscapes and beautification projects, the answer I get is ‘no,’” he said.