County Reorganization Will Get Only Minor Retooling

Commissioners Say They're Pleased With New Government

April 19, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Commissioner President Donald I. Dell doesn't foresee "any sweeping changes" in county government as the board reviews its reorganizationefforts -- implemented about 10 months ago.

Commissioner Elmer C.Lippy said he believes there are a few "loose threads," such as returning environmental protection to a full-fledged department, that theboard needs to address in its review.

"Instead of paying lip service to the environment, let's give it its due -- that's one of my chief concerns," Lippy said. "It's been one of public concern, too. It's been downgraded in the reorganization."

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge agrees with Lippy that environmental protection should be reorganized from the lesser office status. Shealso would like to see the development review process consolidated.

These are issues the commissioners hope to address this week when they meet to talk about the reorganization, which was implemented last July. They promised then to review the shuffling after six months.

However, the commissioners said their efforts to review the reorganization have been stymied by other issues, including state and localbudget woes and the drafting of recycling and reforestation ordinances.

"Two weeks ago we talked intensely about reorganizing," Lippy said. "We had just about finished deliberation but we have not been able to get together on this since then."

As commissioners and staff have wrestled with developing a recycling program, the tasks associated with that have fallen under four agencies -- perhaps underscoring the need for consolidation.

Once recycling kicks off July 1, as proposed, the program will fall under just two departments -- the Comptroller's Office and the Public Works Department, commissioners said.

"We'll go from four arms to just two," Lippy said.

Still, Dell said he is not convinced the environmental protection should be consolidated under one department.

"I will have to give more thought to that. I'm not convinced that would be the move we have to make."

The Department of Natural Resources Protection was among the four full-fledged departments that the commissioners reduced during the reorganization. That department was disbanded and its functions -- landfill operations and monitoring, solid waste financing and recycling --were divided among four agencies.

The move has come under fire from environmentalists.

The reorganization reduced the number of departments reporting to the commissioners from 12 to eight, although several former departments -- now offices -- also report to the commissioners.

In addition, the reorganization created three new departments, including an umbrella agency to coordinate human services; shuffled worried employees among agencies; and gave increased responsibilities to certain administrators.

"I think things are going along well," Gouge said. "There was some confusion with reorganization. The fact that we have some top-notch directors and employees, they made itwork anyway. That's to their credit."

Commissioners reorganized the government with the promise of improved efficiency. It was the largest bureaucratic reshuffling of Carroll government in more than eight years.

The Department of Management and Budget said reorganization saved the county about $190,000. Commissioners conceded, though, that some of the savings came from not filling various positions.

"Reorganization came as we went into the recession," Gouge said.

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