WESTMINSTER — Over objections by two of its members, the City Council voted Mondayto combine the public works and planning departments.
The merger created the job of director of Planning and Public Works, which the council filled by promoting Planning Director Thomas Beyard.
Council President William F. Haifley and Councilman Edward S. Calwell said the position should have been advertised to allow others toapply.
Not advertising "gives the impression it's a done deal," Calwell said.
Mayor W. Benjamin Brown said Beyard was the best person for the job.
"We do trust our own and reward our own," he said.
The reorganization plan was drawn up after three officials in thetwo departments resigned without explanation last month. The mayor, council members and the three officials will not reveal why the threemen resigned.
One of those who resigned -- Public Works Director William S. Mowell -- received six months' of salary as part of a severance deal.
The merger streamlines operations and saves money, said Councilwoman Rebecca Orenstein, who heads the personnel committee.
Haifley said he figured the move would save $4,500 in salaries, which would be "eaten up" if Beyard is given a raise.
About five years ago, the job was handled by one person who experienced "burnout" because of the workload, he said.
Last month, Haifley complained that the reorganization plan was crafted too quickly and at too many closed meetings.
"I have experienced and known of more private meetings, phone calls, correspondence and closed meetings in the past 10 months than in the previous six years that I've served on this council," he wrote in a March 23 memo.
Monday, Brown responded to Haifley's comments by saying that while the current council has called more closed meetings than past councils, the meetings were to discuss personnel matters or land acquisitions or to talk with the city attorney -- all legal reasons for closing meetings.
Records are available for only the past three years and show that the current council called12 of the 38 closed meetings in that period, Brown said.
He complimented three of the five council members elected last May, saying they have brought a "breath of fresh air" to the proceedings. Disagreements on issues occur, but members don't hold grudges, he added.
"I'm here to praise you. It is a pleasure working with you, and you areappreciated," Brown said.
Haifley did not respond to the mayor's comments. Later, he distributed a memo asking the council to considerterm limits for the mayor and council. He did not specify how many terms they should be allowed to serve.
He wrote that "limiting political entrenchment and enlarging the opportunity for a greater choiceof candidates are worthwhile objectives" that should be studied.
Haifley is serving his second four-year term on the council.