The city of Portland has hired an engineering consultant with public works experience to oversee its public works department.

The City Council is slated to vote to appoint Christopher Branch on Monday and he’s expected to start Tuesday, according to a news release.

Branch has been a regional manager for the last 11 years at Sebago Technics, an engineering firm with offices in Lewiston and South Portland. Before that, he was public works director for the city of Lewiston for 18 years.

“We are fortunate to have found a strong leader with such a deep public works background,” said City Manager Jon Jennings. “Chris began his career with the Lewiston Public Works Department and worked his way up through a number of public service roles. That experience, combined with his private sector time, makes him a great fit to be the next leader of the department.”

Branch has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tufts University and more than 38 years of experience. He held several city posts in Lewiston, including construction inspector, water and sewer operations manager, and city engineer. As public works director, he managed about 150 full-time and seasonal employees and oversaw a $20 million annual budget.

Portland’s public works department encompasses trash and recycling collection, snow removal, sewer system maintenance, municipal engineering and construction projects, and maintenance of streets, sidewalks, traffic lights and street signs. The department has 167 employees and a $42 million annual budget. Branch’s annual salary will be $112,554.

Branch will replace Bob Leeman, a former director of public buildings who served as interim public works director for the last nine months. Leeman assumed the post after the abrupt departure in September of Mike Bobinsky, who had been public works director for 12 years and was paid $111,111 annually. Bobinsky has been public works director in Somersworth, New Hampshire, since December.

“Bob (Leeman) was gracious enough to answer our call and return to the city,” Jennings said. “He (ably) led the department through a number of organizational changes that have set us on a good course for the future.”


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