Kamenetz Seeks $8 Million in Savings from Reduced Staff, Merged Agencies
The newly-elected county executive announced a plan to consolidate departments and eliminate vacant positions to provide significant savings to taxpayers.
UPDATED (12:07 p.m.)—County Executive-elect Kevin Kamenetz announced today the consolidation of four government agencies and the elimination of 143 vacant jobs, steps that are projected to save county taxpayers more than $8 million.
Kamenetz said all of the changes announced today are consistent with his theme of "efficiency, consolidation and innovation."
"These goals will be our guiding lights," Kamenetz said during a Monday morning news conference in the Old Courthouse.
Kamenetz said he will immediately eliminate 143 vacant county positions. The one-time move is expected to save nearly $6.2 million in salaries and benefits.
Currently, the county employs about 3,711 general government employees. That figure rises to 4,325 when public safety employees are added.
In November, Kamenetz said he planned to reduce the size of the county government workforce through attrition only and that there would be no layoffs.
Kamenetz, who will be inaugurated in five days, said he will honor a campaign promise to merge the Office of Sustainability with the Department of Environmental Protection and Resource Management.
The new agency will be renamed the Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability or DEPS.
No announcement was made on who would head the newly named agency.
Many sources believe that Vince Gardina, a retiring five-term county councilman, is a leading candidate to become director of that new position. Gardina made a reputation for himself as the council's environmental conscience.
He also was instrumental in Kamenetz's victory. He contributed more than $200,000 to Kamenetz's campaign and was a key adviser and volunteer.
Kamenetz did not answer specific questions about Gardina's possible appointment but said that key personnel decisions, including who will lead his departments, will be announced possibly later this week.
The Offices of Community Conservation and Workforce Development are also expected to be merged into other departments under Kamenetz's plan.
Kamenetz said that functions of the Office of Community Conservation will be merged into three other departments—planning, public works and social services.
Currently, the Office of Community Conservation operates programs such as the Urban Design Assistance Team that could easily be moved into the planning office; streetscape work that could be shifted into public works; and homeless assistance and emergency rent and utility funds that could be administered by social services.
Kamenetz also announced that some of the duties of the county labor commissioner will be transferred to the human resources director.
The labor commissioner's duties related administrative hearings will be merged into a proposed administrative hearing office. Under Kamenetz's proposal, the three administrative judges will also be responsible for functions currently handled by the zoning commissioner, deputy zoning commissioner and hearing officers.
Those positions will be eliminated once the administrative judges positions are created. It is not known who will be appointed to those positions.
Kamenetz said the department consolidations will result in the elimination of four department head positions and save more than $750,000 in salary and benefits.
"It is important to remember that these steps are only the beginning," Kamenetz said, noting that he has asked for two reports on how to streamline government operations without affecting services.
Days after winning the Nov. 2 election, Kamenetz announced that he was ordering Fred Homan, the county administrative officer, and Rob Stradling, the director of the Office of Information Technology, to conduct two studies.
The first study, to be conducted by Homan, is focusing on making county government more efficient. That study is expected to be completed by Dec. 6.
Stradling's study is focusing on efficiencies and cost savings that could come through an increased reliance on technology. It is due in February.