Council Votes to Delay Staff Reorganization

Posted 3/14/12 – After hearing numerous impassioned pleas by City staff, including at least two that would find themselves out of work, and from resident proponents of the library and the Community Services Dept., the City Council decided to place on hold consideration of a proposed reorganization of the City Departments that would ultimately have saved about $260,000.  Among many changes, the plan called for moving the Human Resources aspect of the Community and Personnel Services Dept. into the Administrative Dept., making the Community Services Dept. more of a Recreation Dept. that also oversees Transit.

The move would have eliminated the Community and Personnel Services Director and Deputy Director positions.  An Assistant City Manager position would be reinstated.  The equivalent of 7.8 full-time employees would be removed from staffing.

Development and Planning Services would close their doors for half a day, allowing employees to work uninterrupted to keep up with their workload with fewer employees (a full time administrative aide position and some intern positions would be removed from that department). Still, there is expected to be an increase in the time applicants would have to wait for projects to be approved and building inspections to take place.  In addition, it would take longer for minutes from Planning Commission and General Plan Update Steering Committee meetings to be prepared, and the idea of cutting Planning Commission and GPU meetings to once a month would be considered.

The Library would eliminate a Library Tech II position (putting a 17-year employee out of work), and add a technology position.  Additional staff hours would be cut at the Library, meaning library hours would be reduced by six hours a week.

In addition to the elimination of the two director positions in Community and Personnel Services, enough hours would have been eliminated in the Aquatics division of Community Services that the pool would be closed on weekends and in the evening following evening swim lessons in the summer.  Family Swim on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and Lap swim on Tuesday and Thursday evenings would also be eliminated.

Despite assertions by candidates at the two City Council Candidate forums that have been held so far that Public Safety services are a top priority and will continue to be fully funded, the reorganization calls for $130,000 in cuts to the Police Department.  A part time deputy position would be eliminated, meaning longer times for investigations, due to an increased case load for the single police officer assigned to detectives.  There would be a reduction in part time cadet hours, with on-duty officers picking up some of the cadets’ duties.  The full-time Code Enforcement officer position would be eliminated, and a part time Code Enforcement officer would replace it, with funding coming from Development Services, rather than the PD.  The hours of a part-time administrative clerk would also be cut in half.  All of these cuts would be being made at a time when the PD is already understaffed, since a Captain’s position and an Officer’s position were frozen at the last round of budget cuts, which resulted in a $900,000 savings City-wide, prior to approval of the 2011-2013 budget.  Those two positions would remain, but in their frozen state, unfunded.

While the administrative services department would actually see some increases in staffing, that would be because of the shifting of Human Resources into the department.  Administration would also see the loss of the Administrative Services Director.

Several people spoke to the Council urging them to take a closer look at finding ways to increase revenue, or at least wait and see how some of the areas where things are in flux end up, before laying long time employees off.  One speaker bemoaned the potential loss of a long-time library employee to create a position that would update the website and post City documents online and asked the Council to put humans ahead of technology.  One staff member reminded the Council that while it was true that some full-time positions were becoming part-time positions, effectively allowing the report to imply that there will be minimal loss of employees, that full-time worker might need to look elsewhere for full-time work in order to feed a family or maintain health benefits, meaning the loss of another experienced staff member by the City.  David Crochetiere, chair of the Community Services Commission spoke eloquently and with passion about the Community Services department, noting that he feels he has been handed down a trust from generations of volunteers before him on the Commission to act as a steward, and that he felt that by eliminating the director positions for the department, the City was, in effect, rendering the department voiceless in future policy decisions that would affect the department.  He also referred to an earlier report presented to Council which discussed the cost of recruiting and hiring personnel, and urged council to consider that when deciding whether or not to eliminate experienced staff to bring in new, lower paid, or part-time staff to replace them.

The Council decided to delay any decision on the reorganization until at least the March 27th meeting.