The newly elected Board of County Commissioners didn't waste much time making its mark, reorganizing government's structure five months into its four-year term.
The commissioners reduced the number of full-fledged departments from 12 to eight; created three new departments, including an umbrella agency to coordinate human services; dismantled a fledgling environmental department; shuffled worried employees among agencies; and gave increased responsibilities to certain administrators.
Changes were made primarily to increase efficiency of operations,not to reduce the work force, the commissioners said. The adjustments could lead to savings over the long haul, they said when they announced the reorganization, contending that the average citizen probablywouldn't notice the changes. Few residents have reacted publicly to the changes.
The most attentive and vocal group has been environmentalists. They remain disturbed that the Department of Natural Resource Protection was disbanded and its functions -- landfill operations and monitoring, solid waste financing and recycling -- divided among four separate agencies.
The restructuring is supposed to be reviewed this month after its six-month trial period. Commissioner President Donald I. Dell said he doesn't anticipate "any major changes" to bemade, adding agency directors haven't suggested any substantial adjustments.
The other two commissioners said they are not completely satisfied with their earlier decisions.
"I think it came too soon in the administration," said Commissioner Julia W. Gouge, the lone holdover from the previous regime. "It would have been better accomplished in the coming year. It has survived because employees want to make sure it works.
"I have not seen any more efficiency than before.It's been clumsy at times."
She suggested that some areas, such as environmental functions and development review processes, be consolidated.
"There needs to be more work," she said. "Some things should have been left alone."
Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said he's satisfied with most changes, but that "more shifting" is needed. "The environment is my big concern," he said.