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What to Expect From Your Municipal Engineer

Mike has served as an engineering and/or planning representative/consultant to over 25 municipalities throughout his career. We spoke with Mike about what you can expect from your municipal consulting engineer.

What kinds of services do consulting firms provide as the municipal engineer?

At LaBella, we provide a full-service approach to municipal engineering and offer civil and transportation engineering, architecture, planning and grant assistance, buildings and power engineering, and environmental services. Municipalities can use as many or few of these services as they see fit. There is no formula for providing town engineering services. The LaBella philosophy is that we can provide as much or as little as your community may need.

How is having a consultant act as a municipal engineer different than having an internal staff?

Having a consultant act as the municipal engineer provides communities with more diversity of skilled engineers, architects, and planners, along with support staff and current technology tools to get the job done. Consulting engineers tend to have repetitiveness on some projects and understand common challenges that may come up.

An internal engineer can usually provide some of the typical services, but may not have the time or staff to complete a project in addition to usual daily operations. A benefit of an internal engineer is that they can answer day-to-day questions from staff members and can meet with constituents in a timely manner. Depending on the experience and needs of the internal engineer, the annual salary and benefits may exceed what an outside consultant would charge per year.

What are the trending issues that municipalities are dealing with today?

We are facing an “aging infrastructure” issue that continually needs to be addressed. Many communities are finding that roads, sanitary sewers, wastewater treatment plants, etc. that were built in the ‘60s and ‘70s are now in need of rehabilitation or reconstruction. The biggest challenge is finding the funding for these projects. With a planning department that can find grant money for these projects, LaBella can help take a huge burden off the community/tax payers.

Another trend that municipalities are dealing with is renewable energy resources like wind and solar power. Both of these bring pros and cons to a community and some municipalities are finding themselves in difficult situations since they do not have formally adopted codes to address the options. The legalities of approvals/denials can be very challenging and costly.

How can your municipal engineer help when it comes to the constantly changing regulations that impact your projects?

Our job is to keep you one step ahead of any newly adopted regulations that may impact your community. We will educate you on how these regulations may impact your project, any permits that may be required to stay in compliance, and assist you in facilitating any programs (like an MS4) that your municipality utilizes.