MS Consultants, a multistate engineering firm with an office in Youngstown, will become the chief engineer for the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, but only for four months assuming the successful completion of negotiations.
MVSD is the principal supplier of water from the Meander Reservoir to Youngstown, Niles and McDonald.
After more than two hours of executive session interviews with representatives of MS and another engineering firm Wednesday, the MVSD board unanimously voted to have its legal counsel negotiate the particulars, including job requirements, responsibilities and compensation.
If resolved, the firm would take over as chief engineer from Feb. 22 to June 30.
“This is a stopgap measure so we can evaluate a permanent solution,” said Matt Blair, board president. “[This] temporary fix will give us more time.”
Blair said the firm could become the district’s permanent chief engineer after June 30. “We’ll see where things are,” he said.
Last week, the board named John Nemet, a Class 3 water treatment operator, district “operator of record” after the retirement of Thomas Holloway who served as chief engineer on several occasions.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency requires a Class 4 water-supply license for the chief engineer, while the MVSD lists a professional engineer certification among the job requirements.
According to the EPA, Nemet, who does not have a Class 4 license, can fill the position for only 30 days. His brief tenure would end Feb. 22, the date MS Consultants would take over.
Before the board’s vote, Blair assured MVSD workers their jobs will not be in jeopardy when MS Consultants takes over.
The attorney said the firm was chosen over CT Consultants, another Youngstown engineering firm, because of “issues with Class 4.” Blair said MS meets all the qualifications. On its staff is David Tabak, who was MVSD chief engineer from 1987 to 2003, and has both the professional engineer certification and a Class 4 license.
Holloway’s yearly salary had been $110,000 plus benefits, but the board president said no benefits will be provided to MS Consultants. Compensation will be negotiated, but Blair warned the board may have no choice but to pay the firm a higher figure than what Holloway was earning.
“The requirements from the EPA are becoming more stringent, so we may be required to pay more to cover added duties and responsibilities,” Blair said.
The board is expected to meet later this month to approve the hiring after completion of negotiations.
Originally published by the Youngstown Vindicator and written by Jordan Cohen.