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Reitzer joins Durham's General Services as new department director

The long-vacant director position over General Services has now been filled -- with an architect who's got plenty of years' experience in municipal construction management filling the slot.

Durham's General Services department is allocated 136 FTEs this budget year; the department's responsibilities range from facilities and landscape maintenance, to urban forestry, to project management and real estate, to cemetery maintenance. The group carries a $13 million budget line item in this year's allocation.

Former director Mark Greenspan left the position in '07, taking a job with construction firm Skanska shortly after the City moved forward with a construction manager at risk strategy for the DPAC and other major construction projects in recent years -- an issue that became a point of heat but little light in Thomas Stith's candidacy for mayor that year, as the N&O pointed out two years back. Chris Boyer has been runnign the department on an interim basis since then.

Joel Reitzer comes to Durham after a number of years spent working in Florida, including Jacksonville and Orlando. Articles from the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union show he was embroiled in a difficult and wildly over-budget, over-schedule county courthouse construction project, though as Ray Gronberg notes in the H-S today, it looks like the problems with that project came before he became involved.

Reitzer was brought into JAX in 2001 to oversee road and building projects as part of what the Times-Union described as a shake-up in management on the Better Jacksonville plan, as the former person in that role moved to supervise parks and drainage.

(Anyone who's been to the city whose residents once nominated "It's Not That Bad" as a city slogan will find the idea of a "Better Jacksonville" plan amusing, but that's a bit off-topic.)

Seven months later, Reitzer was moved over parks and drainage as the person whose role he had previously filled took over the ballpark-and-arenas role.

By the mid-2000s, he was leading the courthouse project as a so-called "assistant management improvement officer," serving as an at-will employee outside the city's civil service rules. He drew scrutiny as one of the highest-earning such at-will appointees, earning just shy of $116,000 per year.

After that, according to the H-S, Reitzer was living in Orlando, working back in the private sector again. Few references to his time in the Mouse House are extant, though we at BCR will dig through our connections in the Town that Walt Built to see if anything shakes out.

One point of interest: one Joel Reitzer (we assume it's the same one) made the following comment on the Orlando Sentinel's web site last summer, a point that suggests an administrator who at least shows interest in the subject of public-sector efficiencies:

The proposal for a 28% increase in city property taxes shows an insensitivity toward Orlando homeowners, who are already suffering from reduced property values, increases in prices of gasoline and food, and are experiencing incresing general inflation and increasing unemployment.

This proposed action piles-onto the back of the citizens, at this time, creating, in-effect, the trifecta of financial pain and suffering by the actions city officials are proposing.

I have worked for two city administrations in the City of Jacksonville, and know that elected leaders must make hard choices when balancing budgets.

However, I have seen little fiscal control from the political and administrative leaders in Orlando. Much can still be done to cut back on unnecessary costs and City Pork. Leaders must cut costs and balance the budget, without doing so on the backs of the taxpayers (homeowners), who are the real foundations of this community.

If you think the elected officials and department heads are without fault in this current issue, just pay a visit to any city office or department, observe and compare to your own workplace, and you will easily see where the opportunity exists to cut back and save costs.

Joel Reitzer


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