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Oldsmar discusses job future of engineer

The city manager proposes splitting the duties and reducing the salary of Fred Schildhauer, the longtime city engineer and Public Works director.

The city engineer and Public Works director could get a salary cut and be stripped of part of his title and most of his employees under a plan by City Manager Bruce Haddock.

Fred Schildhauer, who has been city engineer and Public Works director for 12 years, would no longer supervise both departments, and his annual salary of $67,644 would decrease by about $4,000.

The city would hire a Public Works director, who would supervise the 45 employees in that department.

Haddock's plan was discussed by City Council members at a work session Tuesday night, but no action was taken. Because it involves a reorganization, the City Council will need to approve the plan, probably when the city budget is voted on in September.

Haddock explained at the work session that Schildhauer's salary would be reduced to go along with the decrease in his duties.

"Basically, I think that the city is at a point at its growth size, and we are anticipating the city's growth to continue over the next several years, that those responsibilities need to be split up so that they get the adequate attention that they need," Haddock said on Wednesday. "There is plenty to do as far as both a city engineer and public works director."

Council member Ed Richards said at the work session that he is not in favor of the plan and that Haddock should have consulted with the council members before proposing it.

"I don't like the whole reorganization, taking a man who has been with the city for a number of years and taking his salary," Richards said on Wednesday. "If you don't have a good reason, then it's wrong."

Although Haddock explained that the move was a reorganization, Richards called it something else.

"It's a demotion, plain and simple," Richards said. "The reason for it, I have no idea. Maybe they didn't tell me . . . and it makes me look bad, not being informed."

Schildhauer, who did not want to comment, received good, fair and satisfactory marks on his last evaluation from Haddock in June.

"Overall performance has been mixed," Haddock wrote on the evaluation. "Many good things have been accomplished but several major projects have been late or seen little or no progress."

Schildhauer's last two evaluations mention the Tampa Road widening project, which was delayed by about a year. Kimmins Contracting Corp. of Tampa, the contractor for the project, has filed a $2.5-million claim alleging that Oldsmar caused the project's delays.

The contractor also filed other claims against Oldsmar amounting to more than $570,000. The contractor recently filed suit against the Florida Department of Transportation over the project. DOT in turn has filed suit against Oldsmar.

Schildhauer was suspended without pay for a week in 1997 over the city's troubles with Tampa Road. Haddock wrote on a memo in Schildhauer's personnel file that he failed to communicate several important developments in the project.

"Everybody is trying to lay the blame of Tampa Road on Fred," Richards said. "C'mon, it is not all his fault. As far as I'm concerned this reorganization can go back to the drawing board and the city can go back to the way it was."

Mayor Jeff Sandler said Haddock's proposal makes sense because most of the Public Works employees are based out of the city's wastewater treatment plant on Lafayette Boulevard and Schildhauer's office is in City Hall on State Street W.

"In the last several years the individual who is managing (Public Works employees) and responsible for their oversight is half a mile away," Sandler said. "It is a much healthier atmosphere for the manager to be on site. It is just too hard for one person to be the city engineer and the public works director."