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Lake Stevens' Public Works Dept Seeks National Accreditation
City of Lake Stevens looks to the American Public Works Association for Public Works for best practices
“We can do better, and this accreditation process is an important part of that,”
- Mayor Brett Gailey.
LAKE STEVENS — After a couple of rough years for Public Works Department, the City of Lake Stevens announced this week that they will seek standardization and accreditation from the American Public Works Association.
The city says the process, which is expected to take about a year, will improve efficiency, safety, and service levels of the city’s Public Works Department.
The decision to seek external accreditation comes from a sincere effort to improve, according to a city release.
“We can do better, and this accreditation process is an important part of that,” said Mayor Brett Gailey.
The Public Works Department and its internal problems were dragged to center stage by a series of Herald stories.
As of today, the Herald’s reporting about the Public Works Department ranks among their top ten most-read stories of 2021. You can read it here.
That’s partially why the city’s decision to seek external help seems a logical, if necessary decision.
Interim Public Works Director Aaron Halversen said the accreditation will also improve efficiency and consistency within the department.
“What this means to Lake Stevens residents is the plows will be deployed at the right time and the right place, streets will be swept consistently, signs will be replaced in a timely manner, parks will be cleaner, the crews will be safer, and taxpayer dollars will be spent more efficiently,” Halverson said.
The APWA Accreditation process establishes and reinforces best management practices in the public works industry. These standards are then applied in the day-to-day management and application of the department. The APWA then re-checks agency accreditation every four years to insure standards are met.
The high standard that goes along with accreditation is backed up by the fact that just 11 agencies in Washington State are accredited, among those include the City of Bellevue’s utility and transportation departments, and the Public Works departments for the cities of Bothell and Shoreline.
The city says the accreditation will help the city meet industry standards for projects and will improve operational performance.
“What this means to Lake Stevens residents is the plows will be deployed at the right time and the right place, streets will be swept consistently, signs will be replaced in a timely manner, parks will be cleaner, the crews will be safer, and taxpayer dollars will be spent more efficiently.”
- Director Aaron Halverson
For example, an accredited agency must have policies and procedures in place for specific operations or events. This can touch everything from ordering, accepting or rejecting materials to stormwater and sewer utility functions.
Accredited agencies are evaluated every four years to assess areas where improvements are needed.
APWA material states that constituents in accredited agencies can expect more efficient delivery of services and streamlined budget requests because projects are developed around industry standards.
The accreditation process also helps with succession planning for senior public works employees.
According to the APWA, as recently as ten years ago, 50 percent of public works employees were eligible for retirement, but many have stayed for benefits, such as health care. As they age out of positions, agency accreditation is an asset to recruit and retain younger public works professionals.