Consolidation meant to streamline, save county

By: Jim Holmes, Placer County Supervisor
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Placer County expects to save more than $500,000 this fiscal year by reorganizing three departments: the Board of Supervisors Office, County Executive Office and Community Development Resource Agency. The reorganizations are part of an ongoing effort to streamline county operations while making more resources available for high-priority services and projects. The overriding goal is to preserve important public services despite the budget challenges created by the economic downturn and state budget crisis. The Board of Supervisors gave final approval to plans for reorganizing the agency in October and is working out final details on a proposal to consolidate the Board of Supervisors Office and County Executive Office into a single department. All county departments have been tightening their belts for several years, including the three that are being reorganized. CEO’s administrative branch, for example, has not filled five positions vacated over the last couple of years. Combining the CEO and board office in one department makes sense because they already work together closely and have many overlapping responsibilities. The board office supports the five elected members of the Board of Supervisors, frequently serving as their liaisons to the public, county departments and other agencies. The move to consolidate the two offices was prompted partly by the recent retirement of Assistant County Executive Officer Mike Boyle. A member of the CEO management team, he served as the board’s administrative officer the last five years, helping integrate operations of the two departments. At budget workshops in August, the board expressed interest in maintaining that approach while formalizing it. Consolidating the two departments will allow the county to classify the new administrative officer as a principal management analyst, rather than as a higher-ranked assistant CEO or department head. The change will result in a savings of more than 30 percent. Part of that savings will be offset by a move to strengthen the division of the CEO responsible for coordinating development of the county budget and long-range fiscal planning. Another goal is improving the county’s community outreach to constituent groups and the general public. The county expects the reorganization to result in a net savings of more than $300,000 for the 2010-11 fiscal year and ongoing savings of approximately $45,000 per year. The board directed staff last January to return with a plan for reorganizing the Community Development Resource Agency. The reorganization approved by the board in October will result in a net savings of approximately $250,000 this fiscal year. The county will save money by reclassifying two positions and not filling a third position that was vacant, but funded. Part of the savings will be offset by creating an assistant director position to help manage the agency. The reorganizations are great examples of how Placer County is working hard to streamline its operations while making additional resources available for high-priority programs and projects. Our proactive approach to dealing with fallout from the economic downturn and state budget crisis is a fundamental reason our county is in better fiscal shape than many other counties and cities in California.