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City restructuring continues

55 jobs eliminated since start of the year

Preliminary budget proposal shows city will save more than $2.1 million in fiscal 2012

March 23, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

The city of Hagerstown has continued to streamline its operations in 2011 by eliminating dozens of city positions, most of which were vacant, shifting employee duties and advertising for some new jobs.

Hagerstown began restructuring in June 2010 by consolidating the departments of Parks and Engineering and by creating a new Department of Community and Economic Development, which includes planning, code enforcement, economic development and community affairs.

In September 2010, the city listed 449 full-time employees on its payroll, according to documents provided to The Herald-Mail.

Hagerstown has eliminated approximately 55 positions since the start of 2011, City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

A preliminary budget plan shows that the city will save more than $2.1 million in fiscal 2012 salary and benefits from the elimination of those positions, he said. In December, he projected the city would have a $4 million budget shortfall to close in the coming fiscal year mostly due to lower real estate reassessments.

Because Zimmerman had frozen vacant positions in previous years, he said that out of the eliminated positions, only 14 employees lost their jobs, including five union employees and nine nonunion employees, none of whom were public safety employees.

One employee, Planning Inspector Clayton Zug, left the city in early 2011, and his vacated position was also eliminated, City Human Resources Director Donna Frazier said.

Zimmerman emphasized that the city did not eliminate any public safety positions as part of its restructuring, but said 17 public safety positions will not be funded in the coming fiscal year.

For the five union workers whose jobs were eliminated, city collective bargaining agreements give them the option to "bump" into other positions, Frazier said.

That is the right of a senior employee to "bump" a junior employee out of a lower-level job by proving that he or she has the qualifications necessary to take on that position, she said.

In addition to reducing the overall number of staff members, the city redistributed duties and created some new positions as part of the restructuring, said John Lestitian, director of Community and Economic Development.

"With the reorganization, our focus is on economic development," Lestitian said.

He said that when the dust settles on the restructuring, his department will be down seven total full-time and a three part-time positions, despite advertising recently for two new department jobs.

"We are doing more with less," he said. "The end goal is the best possible delivery of city services to citizens as efficiently as possible."

Zimmerman said the city created two positions in the Department of Community and Economic Development and one position in Parks and Engineering.

In February, the city announced its search for a downtown business recruitment and retention manager. It also posted an ad on Feb. 5 for an engineering technician I in the Department of Parks and Engineering.

And in March, the city announced its search for a communications manager.

By adding a recruitment and retention manager, Hagerstown will double the number of employees in economic development, Lestitian said.

While the city searches for the ideal candidate for that job, it will also look to fill City Economic Development Director Debbie Everhart's post.

Everhart announced her retirement a few weeks ago, Zimmerman said.

The city has posted Everhart's position as economic development manager and is accepting resumes, he said.

The duties of Public Relations and Marketing Director Karen Giffin are being divided into two positions, community affairs manager and communications manager, to allow Giffin to focus on her areas of expertise, which include special events and ceremonies, the Arts and Entertainment district, volunteers, and fundraising campaigns, Lestitian said.

Giffin's title will become community affairs manager, he said. Her pay will remain the same, Zimmerman said.

Giffin's current duties of media relations, marketing, and communications will be transferred to the communications manager.

Pay for both the open communications manager and economic development manager positions are listed on the city website as ranging from $50,877 to $80,600.

The engineering technician salary range was listed as from $35,547 to $51,313 in the advertisement.

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