At the April 21, 2022 BPAC meeting, OakDOT Director, Ryan Russo, and OakDOT Assistant Director, Ariel Espiritu Santo, provided an overview of the current organization including updates to department leadership, the vacancy rate and department work. They also gave an update on the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 mid-cycle budget adjustment process that is underway.
Summary of discussion
- Commissioner Gardner shared that City leadership doesn’t seem to treat the staff vacancy situation as an emergency, despite the annual increase in service requests, and asked whether organizational restructuring or contracting opportunities have been considered to address vacancy impacts.
- Ryan Russo responded that City Council earmarks are expected to be of the highest priority for OakDOT project selection, despite this prioritization method not being data driven. Work to prevent unsafe gatherings on Crest Avenue was a recent example of these City Council earmarks. School-related projects are also of high City priority. The result of this hierarchy of priorities is that projects on arterial roadways do not receive as much focus as they could, due to limited staffing resources.
- OakDOT Human Resources (HR) Manager vacancy makes it difficult to improve department-wide vacancy rates.
- HR is more active at college fairs and has recently begun to allow applicants to receive offers contingent on imminent completion of a relevant degree program.
- Commissioners Frank and Whipps commented that City engagement is encouraging. However, they heard from community members that feedback is not always reflected in final proposals and designs for transportation infrastructure.