Is County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann's ongoing shuffle at the Department of Public Works in violation of the Harford County charter?
Councilwoman Joanne S. Parrott, a Republican from District B, thinksso.
But Rehrmann and Larry Klimovitz, director of administration, disagree with Parrott's interpretation of the charter.
Parrott brought up the issue at a County Council meeting Tuesday, stating her concern that two deputy director positions had been abolished and other departmental changes were being made without the council's knowledge.
Parrott's remarks were prefaced by a press release dated March 2 announcing the changes.
The release said the positions of deputy director of highways and deputy director of traffic and transportation had been abolished as of Feb. 28.
The release did not say, however,that only one of the positions was currently occupied. Joseph DiGiacinto had been deputy director of highways for the past three years.
The other position, deputy director of traffic and transportation, has been vacant since September, when Martha Campbell was named acting deputy director for environmental affairs, replacing Robert Donald.
Donald resigned from the department as other reassignments were being made.
"It's not a shake-up of DPW," William T. Baker Jr., director of the Department of Public Works, said last fall when the reorganization began.
"We're just shuffling people around. The emphasis is more on being responsive."
Parrott, however, disagreed strongly Tuesday.
"Section 413 of the charter says the county executive may propose changes in the executive branch, but that reorganization proposal shall be set forth in executive order and statutory form," said Parrott, addressing Klimovitz at Tuesday's meeting.
"Now that it is after the fact, can the council review what should have been brought before us in the first place?"
"God bless you, Mrs. Parrott.Good work," praised council President Jeffrey D. Wilson.
Klimovitz did not debate the issue with council members Tuesday night, but said in an interview Wednesday that he did not believe the executive was in violation of the charter.
"There were five deputy directors; there are now three," said Klimovitz.
"We're not establishing or abolishing an agency, and we're not transferring duties among agencies. We're making changes within an agency. Joe's function was abolished, and there was no other place we could put someone with his experience."
About 50 people in the 400-employee department -- the county's largest -- were reassigned or given revised job descriptions beginning in September.
Employees in the traffic division, who are responsible for traffic counts, highway markings, signs and signals, will now report to the newly hired deputy director of engineering, said Klimovitz.
The water and sewer and environmental affairs divisions will remain virtually untouched, he said.
"People have often said the Department of Public Works is like a big octopus," said Klimovitz.
"This whole restructuring serves two purposes: to increase staffing and give more support to environmental affairs and to increase coordination among the different divisions of DPW so we can better servethe public."