The City of Hillsdale recently hired engineer Kristin Bauer to further its efforts of planning and bud­geting infra­structure for several years to come. Julia Mullins | Col­legian

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.”