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Organizational restructuring and retirement plan would save county at least $500,000

County Commissioners approved proposal that would give $10,000 bonuses to qualified employees

March 15, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Washington County officials Tuesday approved a plan expected to save the county anywhere from $500,000 to $1.9 million through a combination of retirement incentives and organizational restructuring. The plan, approved by a unanimous vote by the five-member Washington County Commissioners, offers $10,000 bonuses for employees who agree to retire May 1, June 1 or July 1. The bonus will be available to employees currently eligible to retire and to those who are within three years of qualifying for retirement based on years of service and who will be granted up to three years of credited service, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.
Herald-Mail file photo

Washington County officials Tuesday approved a plan expected to save the county anywhere from $500,000 to $1.9 million through a combination of retirement incentives and organizational restructuring.

The plan, approved by a unanimous vote by the five-member Washington County Commissioners, offers $10,000 bonuses for employees who agree to retire May 1, June 1 or July 1.

The bonus will be available to employees currently eligible to retire and to those who are within three years of qualifying for retirement based on years of service and who will be granted up to three years of credited service, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said.

There are 103 employees eligible for the incentive, Murray said.

The plan also includes a broad restructuring of county divisions and departments, with a new Division of Plan Review and Permitting designed to be a "one-stop shop" for streamlined development and building approvals, Murray said.

That new division will be headed by Jennifer M. Smith, currently the county's deputy director of public works for land development engineering.

The restructuring does not include any layoffs, Murray said.

Daniel F. DiVito, the county's current director of permits and inspections, will become deputy director of environmental management for water quality, Murray said.

Michael C. Thompson, the county's current planning director, intends to retire under the new incentive program, Murray said.

The restructuring changes, which take effect April 1, are projected to save the county $429,808, Murray said.

If every eligible employee accepted the retirement incentive, the county would save an additional $1.5 million, he said.

Those savings will help compensate for an anticipated budget deficit of between $5.6 million and $7 million for the next fiscal year, Murray said.

Under the restructured county government, all plan-review functions will take place in one division, whereas previously plans had to be reviewed separately by the planning, engineering, and permits and inspections departments, each of which were within separate divisions, Murray said.

"We will be able to restructure this in a way that we have a one-stop-shop that allows someone to come in the door, apply for a permit through our permit desk, go through land use, engineering and building plan reviews in one division, and allow those reviews to roll up into a final permitting process that allows you to go out the door with a permit in your hand," he said.

The division will also work closely with an economic development coordinator who will be available to help attractive new business prospects get through the process as quickly as possible, Murray said.

Another feature of the restructured county government is that all construction inspection functions will be consolidated within a construction management section in the Division of Public Works, Murray said.

Previously, inspection of streets and stormwater management systems was handled within public works, while construction inspection was within permits and inspections, he said.

The new arrangement means that while building activity is slow, building inspectors can supplement stormwater management inspection, which is currently understaffed, Murray said.

With plan review functions moved to the new division, the Planning and Zoning Department will become smaller and more focused on its core function of planning, he said.

Other changes included in the restructuring included:

  • Creating a separate public relations department with a public relations specialist.
  • Moving recreation under a new Health and Human Services Department, which will also oversee human resources.
  • Moving the airport marketing and agricultural marketing positions under the umbrella of the county Economic Development Commission.

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