Burlington, News

DPW director to step down after seven years

Peter Riggs, director of public works for the City of Burlington, sits next to the city’s former Chocolate City logo when he first began his tenure in 2017. After seven years, Riggs will step down from the post.

By Jason Arndt

The City of Burlington plans to recruit a new Department of Public Works director through a contract with an outside firm endorsed on Tuesday by the Common Council.

The contract approval with GovHR/MGT – at a total cost of $24,500 – comes after Peter Riggs announced his resignation from the City of Burlington.

Riggs, who succeeded Jim Bergles and has served the city since 2017, will remain in the position until the end of June before assuming the role as the director of public works and engineering in Grayslake, Illinois.

Before assuming the role in Burlington, he spent four years in Grayslake, where he served as operations manager and assistant to the director of public works.

“I have loved my time in Burlington. It has been interesting, rewarding work, and I hope I served the community well,” Riggs said in an email. “It was definitely a difficult decision, but this opportunity was ultimately what was best for my family.”

On May 21, City Administrator Carina Walters presented proposals from three different firms, including Baker Tilly ($26,950), and Public Administration Associates ($14,400).

Although GovHR/MGT offered the second-lowest proposal, Walters said the firm has extensive experience with Burlington and other city officials have had very positive reviews of the firm.

“The city has utilized GovHR in the past and has been pleased with the recruitment process and quality of services rendered and would continue to recommend working with GovHR/MGT,” Walters wrote.

Walters said firms like GovHR/MGT have helped the city recruit for other positions including fire chief, director of public works and city administrator.

Memorable projects
Riggs helped city officials navigate through the Echo Lake Dam project that drew several debates spanning multiple Common Council meetings.

“Helping the community with the decision regarding the dam is likely the most prominent project I have worked on. I am very proud of the work done thus far and saddened that I won’t be here to see it through completion. I am very invested in that project,” Riggs said. “We’ve got a great team working on the project and they are going to create something amazing that the community will be proud of.”

Riggs also acknowledged his department tackled other challenges, including the city’s alley reconstruction.

The reconstruction of alleys, which began a year ago, came after decades of neglect and required Common Council approval to introduce a 50/50 cost share agreement with property owners along the infrastructure.

Previously, property owners had been responsible for the total cost.

“While not a very popular project, I am proud of the work we have done on alley reconstruction. There were some difficult conversations and a lot of emotion surrounding assessing for these public improvements,” Riggs said. “It wasn’t easy work, but it was necessary.”

He said he was also proud of the accomplishments the department made with in-house order tracking.

“We’ve made incredible improvements in the way we capture requests for service. This has helped us become more efficient, responsive, and accountable for the services we provide,” Riggs said.

Honored to serve
Since coming to Burlington in 2017, Riggs said he has been impressed with the community, which possesses active volunteerism and a commitment to making Burlington a better place.

“These selfless volunteers provide this community with incredible value. These folks helped build the baseball and soccer fields your kids play on, they coach your teams, and they do the organizational leg work that makes youth sports happen,” Riggs said. “They operate your community pool and do so with minimal taxpayer subsidy.”

Additionally, he said volunteers have been instrumental in cleaning up parks, providing donations and building improvements such as the dog park.

“It has been an honor to serve the residents of Burlington,” Riggs said.

Furthermore, he said staff at the Department of Public Works have shown tremendous work ethic, including being on-call with emergency response such as snow removal.

“These everyday things we take for granted require an incredible amount of effort behind the scenes that most people will never understand,” Riggs said. “It’s not always glamorous work, it requires a lot of sacrifice, and rarely will it earn any accolades. But it’s pretty darn important.”

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the May 23 edition of the Standard Press.

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