By Sue Botos
After 32 years of working for the city of Rocky River, Mike Reyes knows just about everything there is to know about the service department. However, his first few days on the job as the new service commissioner would have thrown the most seasoned veteran for a loop.
“When Sandy hit, that’s when the transition was going on,” Reyes recently told West Life. Just prior to the October storm, former Commissioner Dave Winterich retired, and Reyes was named interim commissioner by Mayor Pam Bobst after his having served in the assistant position since 2001.
“But I wasn’t a stranger to things like this. In 32 years, I’ve dealt with storms before,” said Reyes. He noted that the situation was a a bit stressful, mostly due to a cutback in manpower due to budget trimming. “I spent 22 hours here (at the service department) and I couldn’t see straight after a while. He added that making final decisions himself took a little getting used to.
Before being named interim service commissioner, Reyes worked in the city forestry department, and was a foreman for the parks division. A resident of Columbia Station, Reyes remarked, “I have really grown to love the city (Rocky River). I spend more time here than I do at home.”
Despite his many years with the city, Reyes said that he was “kind of surprised” to be chosen as service commissioner. “After I became interim (commissioner) I thought I would apply. I’ve been through quite a few things here,” he stated.
As with most city departments, Reyes anticipates that the budget will be his biggest challenge, specifically manpower. “We’re all getting accustomed to doing more with less. We’ve been doing that for a while,” he commented.
As for the possibility of privatizing refuse pick-up, Reyes said that is still in the talking and planning phase. During City Council’s recent budget hearing, Reyes presented a wish list of equipment purchases, which included a projected $610,000 for trash scooters, refuse packers and a trailer to haul waste to the transfer station.
Mayor Pam Bobst re-emphasized that the city has not left the issue of refuse pick-up, and that talks with residents will continue because such purchases represent pressure on the city’s general fund. She noted that only $680,000 comes from property taxes to support trash collection, which is a $2.3 million operation.
Reyes had praise for Bobst, whom he called “very supportive” as well as new safety service director Mary Kay Costello. “She’s a great lady. She supports my way of doing things,” he stated.