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County consolidates facilities, parks maintenance departments

December 05, 2000

County consolidates facilities, parks maintenance departments



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Washington County Commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the consolidation of the Facilities and Parks Maintenance Departments, which will take effect Jan. 1.

The department will be known as the Building, Grounds and Parks Department.

The commissioners will review the merger in October to see how it's working.

Tuesday marked the first time the merger was publicly discussed. At one point Commissioner Paul L. Swartz asked that the vote be delayed for a week to give him more time to consider the proposal. But when three commissioners said they were ready to vote Tuesday he agreed to the vote.

The proposal was made by Washington County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer at Tuesday's meeting. County Administrator Rodney Shoop also endorsed the plan.

The Parks and Recreation Department was split into two agencies last spring. But since the split, the Parks Maintenance Department has lacked proper focus and direction for long-term planning and preventive maintenance, Rohrer said.

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The agency works with the Facility Department on some in-house projects. There are no clear lines of authority and responsibility under the present structure, which can result in inefficiency, he said.

The Facility Department is in charge of upkeep of all county buildings and management of all contracts related to that upkeep.

"I am convinced that the 'cure' for two 'weaker' agencies is to merge them into one much stronger one. I believe this can be accomplished within existing budgets," Rohrer wrote in a staff report.

He said that the interim parks manager, Terry Shives, has said he wants to retire in June.

Four filled positions will be eliminated but two new ones will be created, Rohrer said.

The merger will save the county $132,572 due to eliminated positions, according to county documents. The amount saved could change because the priority is to retain the quality of services the combined department will provide, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said.

The merged department will have 24 employees, Rohrer said.

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