Powering Strong Communities

Director Of Public Works For Cuba City, Wis., Details Key Responsibilities

In a recent Q&A with Public Power Current, George Morrissey, Director of Public Works for Cuba City, Wis., and a recipient of the American Public Power Association’s Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award this year, detailed his current responsibilities and said receiving the award has been “very humbling and rewarding.”

The award recognizes managers of small utilities serving fewer than 2,500 meters. These managers have a very small staff and must assume multiple roles. The seven hats they must wear are: planning and design, administration, public relations, field supervision, accounting, human resources, and community leadership.

“Being recognized and receiving the Larry Hobart Seven Hats Award has been very humbling and rewarding,” Morrisey said. “We all understand what we do in a day and how we contribute to our communities and families. Recognition on any level is an honor, let alone on a national level by our industry and peers. In all but especially smaller communities the level of involvement and pride that we take in our communities is on display every day. I do promote to people who comment on the winning of this award that it takes all of us to pull off that hat trick.”

“Every day is interesting and usually very different,” Morrisey said. On a daily basis, “I will give our department heads direction on tasks that we are looking to complete within the day or the week and a general overview of what we have coming up in the near future. This allows them to see the direction we are going and how we plan on accomplishing or task.”

The Electric, Water, Wastewater, Street, Parks, Zoning and Compliance departments all fall under his daily duties.

“I am very involved in the finances of the City of Cuba City. Development of all department and City budgets are an intricate portion of my time. I am, by city ordinance, also the Weed Commissioner. This appointment adds an interesting flare to my responsibilities -- I will tell people I may deal with a complaint about the neighbor’s grass one minute and then have a two-hour conversation about a million-dollar deal in our Business Park the next. The variety in a day is actually very stimulating.”

Morrissey has been at his position at the City of Cuba City for 9 years. “I appreciate and understand the value of my ability to say I still enjoy coming to work each and every day. I have been in the Municipal field for 25 years. I started in a neighboring city, City of Shullsburg,” where he acquired his state of Wisconsin Water License, State of Wisconsin Advanced Wastewater License and Journeyman Lineman card. Prior to working for the City of Shullsburg, he worked in a quarry operation “which developed my skills in the street and roads arena."

He has also served on WPPI Energy’s Board of Directors for eight years.

Coming from the City of Shullsburg, which has a municipally owned electric utility, as well in Cuba City, the transition to serving as a Director on WPPI’s Board of Directors “was seamless, very enjoyable and highly informative,” he said.

Morrissey also serves on the Awards Committee for WPPI, which he said “is very rewarding when you are able to encourage and promote the accomplishments of other in the industry.”

WPPI Energy is a member-owned, not-for-profit organization that serves 51 locally owned electric utilities in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Upper Michigan.  

When asked if there are there any projects underway or planned at Cuba City Utilities he wanted to highlight, Morrissey said the City of Cuba City is always looking to expand and continue sustainable growth.

Over the period of time that I have been here we have had steady but minimal growth. The lack of land for expansion has been an issue as it is for most communities,” he said.

“Fortunately, over the last 12 months the City of Cuba City has been able to purchase 62 acres of property within the city limits. This addition has afforded us the ability to create a new smaller subdivision in which we had all the lots sold with in a two-week period. We now are working on Phase 1 and Phase 2 of another development.”

He said these positive moves forward have been made possible through the effective use of tax incremental districts and tax incremental financing. These improvements are the result of all the local taxing jurisdictions understanding the value of sustainable growth, he said.