A Day in the Life of a Civil Engineer – Day 59

Day 59

Budget Analysis

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had our intern create a spreadsheet so I could track the money that has been spent in the accounts related to my division. Today I started going through that document checking it against invoices and making sure each entry was coded correctly. I also need to check the remaining balance against what was budgeted and arrange to make any necessary changes if needed. Overall, it's a cumbersome and time consuming process because our software is so outdated that most of the comparison and checking has to be done manually. But it's important to do so any overages or amendments to specific line items in the budget are addressed. So far it looks like I am off in our uniform rental line item, and it looks like this happened because the safety shoes were coded here instead of under safety equipment. So that's at least one adjustment I'll need to make. 

City accounting is not something they taught us in engineering school. Yet it is an important part of my job. We had an economics class where we learned about calculating the value of money as it relates to interest and depreciation. But budgeting and accounting were not really covered, and from what I understand municipal accounting is very different from regular accounting. The first time I really got heavily involved in it was at my last job. Fortunately we had a really great comptroller who helped me understand how it all works.  I can't quite pinpoint exactly how she did it, but I always felt I had a good handle on where we stood with finances in each account. We also had an outstanding accountant who was very patient and explained the things we couldn't figure out on our own. I'd have to say it took me about five years or more of working with it to feel I really had a good understanding of how it all worked. And every now and then I'll find out there's still something I didn't know. 

Subdivision Meeting

Several city staff members met with representatives of a bank that has an interest in an unfinished subdivision. Not all the improvements have been completed in this development, and the city still holds a letter of credit for the remaining work. Because nothing has been done for several years and no further building has taken place, the city is requesting the work be completed. So this group came in to find out what was left to be done. We need to send them the plans for the subdivision, and then they are going to come back with a proposal for moving forward.

Water Main Change

We had a call today from a contractor who is bidding on a water extension that will be built by an agency other than the city. He requested that we allow changes to the material used for the water main and changes to the location. Because we did not design the project – only approved it, we suggested he contact the engineer who did the design work. Our concern was we were not the designers – only the reviewers – and an IEPA permit has already been issued for the work. Later in the day we talked to the engineer and gave him an idea of what types of changes we would possibly approve. And we discussed the need to get a new IEPA permit if necessary. He is going to research what could be done and if a new permit would be needed. If any changes are made, he will also send us amended plans for approval.

ADA Ramps for Road Project

Because there always seems to be so much confusion over how curb ramps should be built to comply with the ADA law, I am thinking about drawing up some details for specific intersections to help everyone better understand what needs to be done at certain locations. Today I took our intern out to show him what information we would need from the field so that we could prepare these details.