City of Austin, TX

Director of Solid Waste Services

Location: Austin, TX
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The City of Austin is located in the Central Texas Hill Country and has a population of more than 740,000 residents.  It was chartered in 1839 as the capital of the Republic of Texas, and remained the state capital when Texas was admitted to the Union in 1846.  It is the 15th largest city in the United States, and is the cultural and economic center of the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of more than 1.5 million.

In 2006, Austin was selected as the #2 Best Big City in “Best Places to Live” by Money Magazine and the “Greenest City in America” by MSN.  Popular Science also ranks Austin high on their list of “The Greenest Cities” in the United States.  Residents of Austin are typically known as “Austinites” and their official slogan is “The Live Music Capital of the World.”  Recently however, Austinites have adopted the unofficial slogan of “Keep Austin Weird.”  This refers to the eclectic and progressive lifestyle of many Austin residents. 

The city was founded as the Village of Waterloo in 1830, and was later renamed Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin who is known as the Father of Texas.  The Texas State Capitol was completed in 1888 and was advertised as the 7th largest building in the world at that time.  Today, the building remains a significant part of the Austin skyline and is, in fact, taller than the U.S. Capitol.  Since its incorporation as a city, Austin has doubled in size every 20 years.  

Austin has a subtropical climate, characterized by hot summers and mild winters.  Though people often think of Texas as being dry, this is not the case in Austin, which is known for being green and for getting plenty of rain throughout the year.  Temperatures in the summer months average 90 degrees (June until September).  There are only 24 days when the minimum temperature falls below freezing.  The city averages 300 days of sunshine each year and about 33.78 inches of rainfall (though 2009 has been a drought year).  It rarely snows in Austin.

Austinites are very engaged and active in local politics. They have high expectations for their public officials and are not afraid to voice their displeasure to the top levels of city management and/or the media. They are heavily involved and well represented at neighborhood meetings, school functions, parades, community events and a variety of other engagements, no matter how large or small. Additionally, volunteering is extremely popular and Austin is renowned as the second most charitable city in the nation.

As a result of its highly educated populace and its universities (which bring in people from all over the world), Austin has developed a reputation as being a young and active cultural haven.  Uniqueness is celebrated and encouraged.  Partly due to the influence of The University of Texas at Austin and its School of Radio, Television, and Film, as well as an advantageous business climate and low-key celebrity culture, Austin has been the location for many motion pictures and television shows, including the current hit, “Friday Night Lights.”  The city has taken advantage of this reputation and annually hosts the Austin Film Festival.    The city’s nightlife and music scene are also a significant part of Austin’s culture.  Many Austinites flock to the legendary Sixth Street to enjoy the nightlife and live music offerings, which are plentiful and varied on any given night of the week.

Austin has a thriving economy that is rich in technology (the city is often deemed “Silicon Hills”).  The largest employers include the University of Texas, the State of Texas, Seton Healthcare Network, Dell, IBM, the City of Austin, and Freescale Semiconductor.  Other high-tech companies with a presence in the city include:  Apple Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Vignette, AMD, Sun Microsystems, Samsung, and Intel. Additionally, Austin is rich in small businesses and is served by a strong network of independent, locally owned firms and organizations such as the Austin Independent Business Alliance. 

 
The City of Austin’s Solid Waste Services (SWS) Department’s goal is to provide reliable integrated waste management services. The department operates as an enterprise fund, with a budget of $66 million, and a staff of 398 people working in areas ranging from administrative to field employees. The department serves approximately 180,000 customers and offers a variety of services. These services include: garbage, recycling, and yard trimmings collection; large brush and bulk items collection; a household hazardous waste drop-off facility; litter control; dead animal collection; and street cleaning.

The department is known for implementing innovative recycling measures – from curbside multi-stream recycling in the early 1980s, to dual stream recycling (separating paper from cans, glass, and plastic) in the 1990s and, Single Stream Recycling in October 2008. Single Stream allows our customers to conveniently place all recyclables in one cart without sorting.

SWS’ curbside garbage collection program is called Pay-As-You-Throw (PAYT). Even with a 55 percent increase in the number of customers since the program was introduced in 1991, PAYT has reduced the amount of waste Austin sends to the landfill by almost 25 percent. Under the PAYT system, customers receive weekly collection of garbage, every other week single- stream recycling collection, weekly yard trimming collection, and periodic bulk and large brush collection.  Monthly rates are based largely by the size of garbage cart customers use and a per bag cost for any additional garbage set out beyond what can fit in the customer’s designated cart.  The advantage of Austin’s PAYT program is that it encourages recycling of yard waste, grass-cycling, landscape debris composting, source reduction, reuse, and the multitude of measures that help divert solid waste from the landfill. Moreover, residents have an economic incentive to recycle more and to dispose of less waste.   In addition to the PAYT Program, SWS also provides a Household Hazardous Waste collection facility, street sweeping, litter control, and dead animal collection which are all funded by an anti-litter fee.

In 2008-2009, SWS implemented the first rate increase in 12 years for the PAYT program. The Fiscal Year 2010 budget also includes fee increases for PAYT and for litter abatement services. This increase was necessary to maintain an efficient level of service to our customers. The 2010 proposed budget also includes $5.8 million for the purchase of capital equipment and $7.7 million for the design of a Single Stream Recycling facility.

In early 2009, the Austin City Council approved the first Zero Waste Plan in the State of Texas. The City of Austin’s goal is to reduce the amount of waste Austinites send to the landfill by 90 percent by the year 2040.

Goals for 2009-2010:
• Increase the average pounds of recycled materials collected per customer account per pickup
• Decrease the average pounds of garbage collected per customer account per week Provide educational programs to the community on responsible waste management.
• Promote Zero Waste by increasing the percent of surveys, collected after presentations, indicating an interest in follow up for more information on SWS programs/services.
• Reduce, reuse and recycle by increasing the percent of waste stream diverted from the landfill through recycling from 16.7% to 25.0%.
• Increase customer satisfaction in the citizen survey for Residential Collection Services
• Improve employee safety by reducing the lost time injury rate


The City of Austin wants to employ a visionary leader in the solid waste/environmental management field with the ability to demonstrate excellent judgment, independence, industry innovation and integrity. This executive will report to an Assistant City Manager and is responsible for planning, directing, managing and administering all departmental operations and functions including residential waste collection, recycling, special environmental services and a Zero Waste Management PLAN for the City of Austin.

The successful candidate must have excellent interpersonal skills to lead an open, transparent operation accomplishing the policy goals set by the City Council.  Engaging the community via advisory groups, forums, and surveys will be a vital element of the Director’s duties. 

The Director will act as the City’s advisor to City Management, City Council and the residents of Austin on solid waste and environmental management.

The Director will also plan, direct and manage day-to-day operations of the department as well as serve as a leader in implementing the development of a Zero Waste Management PLAN for the City of Austin.

Expectations for New Director
• Develop implementation plans to enable the City of Austin to achieve a 20% reduction in per capita solid waste disposal to landfills by 2012, and Zero Waste to landfills by 2040.
• Develop a comprehensive integrated solid waste master plan for the City of Austin.  The City of Austin and the Solid Waste Services Department have taken a proactive role in promoting and implementing programs to minimize environmental impacts and to enhance resource conservation opportunities in its waste management programs. Using the City’s Zero Waste goals as a foundation, the Master Plan will serve as a business planning document to identify financial requirements, regional waste shed challenges, facility requirements, and program requirements necessary to provide solid waste services to Austin’s growing population for the next 50 years.
• Assess the Department’s structure and staffing to make recommendations regarding the most effective alignment, staffing configuration.
• Analyze the existing department’s infrastructure to include linkages between City financial reporting and auditing system.
• Develop a “best practice” quality control/assurance program to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction.
• Host and participate in a variety of meetings with city leaders and environmental and waste management groups to assess and redefine the current offerings and support in development of new initiatives that are proactive in addressing the community’s needs.

Responsibilities and Duties
• Plans, directs and supervises the administrative, engineering, environmental and operational staff in the design, operation, maintenance, marketing and regulatory activities of the City’s Solid Waste programs to include residential waste collection, landfill, recycling, and special collection services.
• Directs and coordinates research projects, studies and investigations.
• Ensures that waste management is in compliance with public health and environmental laws and regulations.
• Develops and monitors contractual agreements between the City and other entities regarding solid and hazardous waste, and other environmental programs.
• Ensures the preparation of records and reports on disposal activities such as quantities of waste handled.
• Develops and implements short and long range strategies, objectives, policies and priorities, determines appropriate service and staffing levels; and allocates resources accordingly.
• Plans, manages and develops the department budget; estimates funds needed for staffing, equipment, materials, and supplies; directs the monitoring and approval of expenditures; and directs the preparation and implementation of budgetary adjustments as necessary.
• Acts as official departmental representative to other city departments, City Manager’s Office, elected officials, and outside agencies; explains, justifies, and defends department programs, policies, and activities; and negotiates and resolves sensitive, significant, and controversial issues.
• Briefs and advises City management and the Mayor and Council regarding solid waste services programs in person and through written reports.
• Coordinates activities with other city departments and outside agencies; provides highly responsible and complex administrative support to the City Manager’s Office.
• Develops and negotiates contracts between the City, private developers and other governmental entities and organizations.


The ideal candidate for the Solid Waste Services Director is someone who can effectively manage the needs of a large complex organization with the desire to move the City of Austin in the direction of zero waste.  Characteristics include a strong leader with the ability to carry out the vision of the Zero Waste Management PLAN and effectively implement strategies for achieving the goal of zero waste in 2040.  This strong leader will also need to motivate, mentor and provide guidance to department staff to help unite and engage the organization to function as a cohesive team.  It is also important for the successful candidate to build a strong succession plan to ensure long-term success with an ambitious strategy.  The selected candidate will need to embody the spirit of the City of Austin in becoming the “Best Managed City in the Country.”

Additionally, the ideal candidate will need to build successful partnerships both internally within the City of Austin and externally with the public and the advisory commissions to ensure that a common vision is enacted and supported within the department.  The ability to manage a diverse workforce is essential to the long-term success of the Solid Waste Services Department.

The following skills are requested:
• Knowledge of solid waste management and technology including federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations.  Specific knowledge of zero waste strategies and environmental concerns regarding solid waste issues is essential. 
• Knowledge of fiscal planning and budget preparation.
• Knowledge of supervisory and managerial techniques and principles.
• Skill in handling multiple tasks and prioritizing.
• Skill in using computers and related software applications.
• Skill in data analysis and problem solving.
• Skill in evaluating bids and making recommendations.
• Skill in preparing and analyzing budgets, reports, and studies.
• Ability to make clear, concise and well organized oral and written communications and presentations.
• Ability to establish and maintain effective public relations with a wide variety of persons and organizations.
• Ability in maintain effective communication and working relationships with city employees and the public.
• Ability to work effectively in a position of high visibility and stress on controversial issues of city-wide importance.
• Ability to prepare comprehensive reports as required by state and local governmental organizations
• Ability to assimilate, evaluate and facilitate the necessary actions to meet environmental concerns needs and desires of staff, the public, City Management and City Council.

Education and Experience
Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with major coursework in Public Administration, Business Administration, Planning, Engineering, Environmental Science or related field is required plus seven (7) years of management experience in Environmental Management, Engineering, including five (5) years at a policy making management level.


The City of Austin is offering a competitive salary commensurate with experience and a comprehensive benefits package. Relocation assistance may be offered if the successful candidate is from out of town.
To learn more about this position, please forward a transmittal letter of interest and a resume to:

Affion Public
20 North 2nd Street, Suite 200
Harrisburg, PA 17101
888.321.4922
Fax: 717-214-2205

E-mail:
resumes@affionpublic.com