The City of Hillsdale recently hired engineer Kristin Bauer to further its efforts of planning and budgeting road, sidewalk, and lead-water line repairs in a way that can be maintained for several years to come.
“Kristin has just over 20 years of experience as a city engineer, so she brings a wealth of knowledge to us,” said Hillsdale City Manager David Mackie, who previously worked with Bauer for the City of Taylor. “I think she will be a tremendous asset to the community.”
Bauer has more than 30 years of engineering experience, including working as the city engineer for the City of Adrian for 14 years and the City of Taylor for one year. For the past four years, Bauer worked with the City of Marshall where she supervised 10 departments.
“In the beginning of my career, it actively avoided municipal work,” Bauer said. “But when I got into it, I realized I loved it. I wear a lot of different hats and it’s never the same day twice.”
Among her tasks, Bauer will work on planning and budgeting for the repair and long-term maintenance of infrastructures such as roads, sidewalks, and lead service lines.
Mackie explained that budgeting and planning repairs are “like a puzzle.” For example, the first comprehensive plan is to overlay street repairs and water lines. Before the city repairs the street, the engineers must know the condition of the sewers and water lines under the street to prevent tearing up a newly built road in a year to replace them
“Because the council wants us to have infrastructure repairs as our number one priority, we’ve been addressing the projects that most need to be addressed,” Mackie said. “But the sewers and streets are more complex, so we need more hands to work on them.”
Bauer said she loves this kind of problem solving and intends to build sustainable, long-term plans for city facilities.
“We are working on building a proactive program instead of a reactive one,” Bauer said.
Another important element of Bauer’s job is to facilitate communications between public departments.
“We’re not always successful with communication between departments, so it’s helpful to have someone as a go-between who can bring them together,” Bauer said.
Mackie added that having Bauer coordinate various planning allows the departments to fulfill their required operations. In recent years, departments such as water, electricity, and public services, have not been able to build maintenance plans because they have been busy with organizing daily operations.
Before hiring Bauer as a government employee, the city frequently hired Matt Taylor as a third-party engineer to assist in city planning. This got harder, Taylor said, as the city required more aid, and he was getting more responsibilities in his other jobs.
“The city and I mutually decided that it would be best to find someone to do this full time,” Taylor said. “With my change in work responsibilities with Foulke Construction here in town, it was a good time for them to hire an engineer they are acquainted with and for me to focus on the construction company and my clients around the county.”
With the hiring of Bauer as the city engineer, Mackie said, the city brings its expenses “in-house,” which allows them to save the revenue in overseeing construction themselves instead of hiring someone to do it.
Bauer’s ultimate job is to use and distribute the city’s resources to repair roads and sidewalks in a way that can be maintained. This, Bauer said, will take some planning time before the city can begin the projects.
“While I would like to go out and repave all the roads right now, there’s a lot of planning that must be done first,” Bauer added. “I was joking with Dave Mackie earlier. I said, ‘you’re probably mad because I didn’t fix your roads in the first week!’ But it takes time. Patience is a good thing. We’re working toward a better Hillsdale.”