Utilities Director

City of Cedar Rapids, IA | Full-time

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The Position

The City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is seeking a strong leader who is customer-focused and financially savvy, with both technical and interpersonal competence to serve as Utilities Director. The Director will oversee a department that provides high quality, sustainable water; sanitary sewer; and solid waste and recycling services for the residents, businesses, and regional customers. Cedar Rapids is one of the best-run cities in the country, values employees and organizational health, and is focused on innovation, technology, and the future.

The Director oversees approximately 249 FTEs and manages three divisional budgets totaling $135 million. The Utilities Director works closely with and is an integral part of the City’s Executive Leadership Team. The Utilities Director reports to the City Manager and has the following direct reports: Utilities Environmental Manager, Water Utility Plant Manager, Water Pollution Control (WPC) Utility Plant Manager, Solid Waste Superintendent, Utilities Engineering Manager, Utilities Business Manager, and two administrative assistants. The position is open because the current Director is retiring.

The Organization

Since 2006, the City of Cedar Rapids has operated under the council-manager form of government, wherein the elected body appoints a City Manager to oversee the day-to-day administrative operations of city government. The Cedar Rapids City Council consists of eight council members and the Mayor. The Mayor and three council members are elected at large, with the remaining five members elected from one of the City’s five districts. All members of Council, including the Mayor, are elected to four-year terms.

The organization consists of the following departments: Building Services, Community Development, Finance, Fire, Human Resources, Parks and Recreation, Police, Public Works, and Utilities. Directors from each department report to the City Manager, the Deputy City Manager, and the Finance Director.

The FY 2021 expenditure budget is $637.2 million, of which $137 million is appropriated to the General Fund. Approximately 1,511 FTEs encompass the City’s workforce in FY 2021.

Vision Statement

“Cedar Rapids, a vibrant urban hometown – a beacon for people and businesses invested in building a greater community now and for the next generation.”

Core Values

We Serve Enthusiastically
We have a people first attitude, we take initiative, we go the extra mile

We Find a Way
We are problem solvers, we listen and learn, we explore creative alternatives

We Team Up
We are open and approachable, we value relationships, we assume the best in others

Awards and Recognition

  • 14th best-run city in America in 2020 (WalletHub)
  • #2 most recession-resistant city in 2020 (Smartasset)
  • 11th best American city to live in after the pandemic (Business Insider)
  • #1 best place in America for children for five years in a row (Smartasset)
  • 18th safest city in America in 2019 (WalletHub)
  • 12th best city to buy a house in America in 2019 (Niche)
  • 16th most livable mid-sized city in America in 2019 (Smartasset)
  • Top 100 best places to live in 2019 (Money.com)
  • 2020 most caring city in Iowa (Insurify)
  • 8th best city for living the American dream in 2019 (Smartasset)

Utilities

Utilities provided by the City include water, water pollution control/sanitary sewer, stormwater, and solid waste and recycling. Telecommunications, wireless, natural gas, and electric service are provided for by private entities in Cedar Rapids. Sanitary sewer and stormwater distribution systems are managed by the Public Works Department. Utilities has also been a leader in the watershed improvement program upstream, working with partners to improve water quality to the Cedar River.

The City’s utility rate for FY 2021 is proposed to increase by 4.8 percent. The majority of the increase will be used to fund operations and capital improvement projects for water, water pollution control, stormwater, and sanitary sewer. The water service charge, sewer service charge, and volumetric charge will all increase by 6.5 percent in FY 2021. 

Water Division

The Water Division is responsible for the delivery of water to every home, business, and industry in the community. The Division distributes enough water to serve 360,000 residential customers. The Water Division’s FY 2021 budget totals $66 million, which includes $13.8 million in capital project expenditures. The Division is currently staffed by 113.49 FTEs. 

  • 679 miles of water mains ranging in size from 4 to 48 inches in diameter
  • 38 million gallons of water distributed every day on average 

Water Pollution Control Division

The Water Pollution Control Division is responsible for the treatment of wastewater from Cedar Rapids’ residents and industries. The Water Pollution Control Division treats the equivalent sewage strength that would be produced by more than one and a half million residential customers. The Division’s FY 2021 total budget is approximately $57 million, including $12.2 million in capital project expenditures. A total of 86.74 FTEs work within the Division in FY 2021. 

  • 1.56 billion gallons of wastewater treated per month
  • 150-250 tons of bio-solids produced per day
  • 2,000 loads of waste from septic tanks, grease traps, portable toilets, and other hauled wastewater accepted and treated per year 

Solid Waste and Recycling Division

The Solid Waste and Recycling Division is responsible for the transportation of garbage, recycling, and yard waste. The Division’s FY 2021 total budget is $11.8 million, and it is currently staffed by 49 employees. Running a total of 36 trucks per day, the Division services more than 42,700 customers each week. 

Tonnage/volume of materials collected annually:

  • 21,000 tons of garbage
  • 8,200 tons of recyclables
  • 14,000 tons of yard waste
  • 600 tons of bulky items
  • 4,300 tons of loose leaves 

Experience and Education

Minimum requirements are a bachelor’s degree and at least six years’ experience in water and/or wastewater utility with significant financial responsibility for budget, projects, and rates.

Preferred qualifications include a master’s degree, licensed Professional Engineer (PE), and significant supervision in a utility organization. Demonstrated experience utilizing new technology, environmental stewardship, continuous improvement, and organizational health in a comparable, complex utility organization is also preferred. Experience with large industrial customers and economic development is also preferred. 

The Ideal Candidate

The ideal Utilities Director is a technically competent, well-rounded leader who values customer service and collaboration across utility disciplines and also across the City organization. The next Director is an approachable team player with exceptional communication and listening skills. This person is accustomed to communicating complex technical information to a variety of audiences and is a seasoned public speaker. This individual is visible in the organization, empowers and engages staff, and, in turn, earns the respect and trust of department personnel. As a member of the City’s Executive Leadership Team, the Utilities Director forms strong working relationships with peers and staff throughout the organization. 

Employing an innovative and strategic approach, the Director identifies future infrastructure needs and develops plans to meet these demands and finance large-scale projects. Having overseen large capital projects before, the successful candidate understands the impact on utility rates and is comfortable explaining rate changes to a variety of audiences. This person is politically savvy and has worked with regulatory bodies in previous roles. The next Utilities Director has an unwavering commitment to the environment. 

Cedar Rapids’ next Utilities Director is committed to excellence in service delivery yet never forgets to lead with humility and a sense of humor. The Director is comfortable working with people from all walks of life and demonstrates a commitment to diversity and equity in hiring and employee development practices. This person is even-tempered even in times of stress and provides calm, steady leadership. The successful candidate has superb negotiation and delegation skills and efficiently manages competing priorities and initiatives.

A champion for innovation and continuous improvement, the ideal Utilities Director takes calculated risks to improve operations and stays up-to-date on the latest industry trends and best practices. This person has a general understanding of solid waste operations, environmental regulations and concerns, and water and wastewater operations. This individual sees the big picture of how utilities are essential to economic development and works collaboratively to ensure the City is poised for growth. Cedar Rapids’ next Utilities Director is a visionary, servant leader who embodies professional integrity at all times. 

The Community

Situated on the banks of the Cedar River in eastern Iowa, Cedar Rapids is a thriving Midwestern community rich in history, art, and culture. As Iowa’s second-largest city, Cedar Rapids is a major economic hub and enjoys a diverse, stable business environment. The community is affordable, inclusive, and safe – the qualities often cited as the reasons Cedar Rapids is one of the nation’s best places to live, work, and raise a family. With ample parkland and green space, a large variety of nightlife and restaurant options, and a year-round calendar of exciting events, Cedar Rapids has something for everyone. 

There is never a shortage of things to do in Cedar Rapids. The City’s expansive park and trail system spans across more than 4,170 acres of land and greenspace, and the Cedar River provides a wide range of water recreation opportunities. Cedar Rapids even has a small island on the Cedar River. Mays Island houses the Linn County District Court and Correctional Center, the Veterans Memorial Building and Coliseum, and two small parks. Downtown Cedar Rapids is a shopping and dining destination, and the nearby Veterans Memorial Stadium is home to Minor League Baseball’s Cedar Rapids Kernels, a Minnesota Twins affiliate team. 

For those seeking culture and history, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, African American Museum of Iowa, and historic Paramount Theatre are sure to please. The Czech Village/New Bohemia District, located in the heart of Cedar Rapids, celebrates the community’s distinct Czech heritage. Home to the largest collection of Grant Wood paintings in the world at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and the Brucemore mansion – Iowa’s only National Trust Historic Site – Cedar Rapids has unique offerings that can’t be topped. 

Cedar Rapids boasts a large and diverse tax base due to its substantial amount of commercial, health care, food processing, manufacturing, telecommunication, and aerospace companies. The City’s largest employers include Collins Aerospace Transamerica, St. Luke’s Hospital, and Cedar Rapids Community School District. Other large industrial utility users include International Paper, Ingredion, ADM, JRS Pharma, Cargill, and Dupont. General Mills and Quaker Oats also have plants here. 

Most students in the community are served by the Cedar Rapids Community School District, with portions of the City served by the Linn-Mar Community School District and the College Community School District. Higher education opportunities are available at one of the two private liberal arts universities in Cedar Rapids – Kirkwood Community College or the University of Iowa, located less than 30 miles south of the City. 

Every year the Cedar Rapids community experiences the wonders of changing seasons in typical Midwestern fashion. Some say that taking the time to appreciate everyday beauty extends life, almost like an extra season is added to every year. Cedar Rapids offers a unique balance of big city amenities without all the typical hassles and headaches that come with a large city. This extra time afforded to residents and visitors is why Cedar Rapids is known as “The City of Five Seasons.” This fifth season affords residents time to enjoy all other seasons and to enjoy life.

Quick Facts

  • Population: 133,562
  • Median Household Income: $59,152
  • Median Home Value: $140,200
  • Median Age: 35.8

All demographic information was sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.  

Compensation

The salary range is $128,711 - $180,195, depending on qualifications. Benefits offered include the following:

  • Health, dental, vision, life, and long-term disability insurance
  • Participation in the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS)
  • Flex leave (paid time off) accrued monthly
  • 11 paid holidays
  • Deferred compensation
  • Semi-annual longevity payments (beginning after five years of service)
  • Employee Assistance Program
  • Employee Recognition Program
  • Educational assistance
  • Paid parental leave 

Residency within the city limits is required within three months of appointment. 

How to Apply

Applications will be accepted electronically by The Novak Consulting Group. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter and resume. Open until filled with the first review of applications on October 28, 2020.

Questions

Please direct questions to Catherine Tuck Parrish at apply@thenovakconsultinggroup.com or 513-221-0500.

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