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Columbia County commissioners OK restructuring of former Emergency Services Department

Columbia County Commissioners OK’d a restructure of its Emergency Management Services Division, creating a new Information Technologies Division and realigning the human resources department to report to the county administrator.

 

After the resignation of longtime director Pam Tucker in March, county administrator Scott Johnson told the commission the multiple emergency services branches would be distributed temporarily among other departments. . Johnson said the need for a restructure, and specifically an IT division, soon became clear.

“We have been in desperate need of an Information Technologies division director, with all the cyber threats and those sort of things and the amount of data that we keep here at the county; we feel like that’s an important piece,” Johnson said during Tuesday’s meeting. “So we were able to reorganize and make the recommendation to the board that we move that division to emergency operations to technology and then rearrange some other departments.”

The new IT division will include the information technology, GIS, broadband and training departments. Johnson said the former Emergency Services Division Director position, which is currently vacant, will lead the new IT Division.

The county’s current IT service desk manager, Sherra Holden, was promoted to administrative specialist, and will serve as the assistant to the IT Division Director, at an annual salary of $50,363.40.

The remaining departments were split between the deputy county administrators, fire service and internal service divisions.

The newly renamed Fire and Emergency Services Division will be responsible for Columbia County Fire Rescue, 3-1-1, Forestry, Division of Family and Children Services’ budget, and EMS contracts. The risk management department and county transit departments will be moved under the county’s internal services division.

The new Emergency Management Agency will continue to report directly to Deputy County Administrator Glenn Kennedy, said Johnson.

“One of the things that we felt like was very important, was in light of recent things that have happened, was that EMA needed to be a direct report to county administration,” Johnson said. “It was then under the division director. It was a department then, it is still a department now.”

The department’s interim director, Andy Leanza, was tabbed to head it. His salary will be $65,000, plus phone and car allowances.

Tucker’s former administrative assistant, Suzie Hughes, will be Leanza’s assistant. Commissioners reclassified her position to Specialist VI Exempt with an annual salary of $54,206.88 plus annual cellphone and vehicle allowances.

The position of deputy director, which will fall under the EMA department, is currently vacant and will be advertised.

Commissioners also approved a recommendation for the county’s human resources department to report directly to the county administrator.

“I am in pretty constant contact with our human resources manager anyways, but that way we would be able to head those items off early and I would know about all of the human resource issues going on in the county,” Johnson said.

The changes are scheduled to take effect immediately.

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