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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Letter to the Editor: Councilmember Salafia: City Dept. Mergers Don't Save Resources
Below is a essay by Councilmember Linda Salafia. All opinions expressed are that of the author and not necessarily that of the Insider staff. The City Reorg will be voted on at a special council meeting open to the public at 6 pm Thursday May 2, 2013 in the Council Chambers.
Salafia previously commented on this re-org in an earlier letter to editor:
The objective of the task force appears to contain a predetermined remedy for what were yet-to-be discovered problems.
Salafia points out that many of the positions will still have to be
filled and therefore the cost savings is a false assumption. Kleckowski
cited departments becoming dysfunctional as a concern. In a previously
published letter from the actuaries hired by the City to City Finance
Director Carl Erlacher, the actuaries expressed concerns that the
pension fund be in trouble as early as 2014. Apparently, Mayor Drew
knows better than the professionals.
Editors Note: Background Information and financial breakdowns:
I want to respond to John Milardo's newsletter however I don't
think the space for comments will allow me room to say what I want.
vote on the merger of the Personnel Department into the Legal
Department is scheduled for May 2, and most assuredly will pass.
However, I plan on voting no to that and to any other resolution
presented as a result of the merger. There are several reasons why I
don't agree with this particular merger and don't think that it will
either streamline, improve the efficiency of government or save money.
First, I don't agree with the report issued by the Task
Force formed by the Mayor to improve efficiency in government shortly
after he took office. I believe that the Mayor gave them the charge to
reduce the number of employees that report directly to him; not that the
committee did an unbiased assessment of the workings of the city
government. The report stated that 20 employees reported directly to
the Mayor, I'm having trouble coming up with those 20. Also, I
understand the concept of having outside eyes look at the procedures;
however, they need to have a basic understanding of the current
procedures before you make changes. I had to point out to them that
even though only one employee in a truck driver position was retiring
that in reality they were losing up to 7 drivers who drive snow plows
Secondly, I don't agree with the numbers presented on
how this merger will save money for the city. As part of the package
given to the Council outlining the savings, as John says, the second
Deputy City Attorney position is included in the current funding column
and also in the proposed column so that there is no effect on the bottom
line. While this is technically true, since the position of second
Deputy Attorney is in the budget now, it was done so on the expectation
of the merger happening. It was not in the budget prior to this year
and therefore should be included as a new expense.
Thirdly, I truly believe that the Personnel Department
has different duties and functions that although could often use the
advise of attorneys, they should remain separate and distinct. The
volume of work needed to handle the hiring process of the city by
itself should illustrate the need for a separation of duties. Now you
will be filtering the public and employees through the City's
Legal Office. The Personnel Department was a department of 4 employees
and that had been reduced to 3; this merger is proposing 2 for this
function. I find it difficult to believe that 2 people are going to be
able to handle the required duties without additional help
considering what's on the horizon such as needing to hire a new Fire
Chief, and the review and filling of the other positions that are open
as a result of the retirement incentive given. (That's another whole
article about why I didn't agree with that either - as far as, I can
see, there's been no actual savings with that.) Paralegal has come up
Also, included in this merger may be a change in the
council committees which is going to be another problem and will
require another whole discussion and I believe that should happen
before any merger or change takes place.
Therefore, based on those reasons and more, I will not be voting in favor of this merger.