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City has outline for reorganizing

Commission shows support

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Editor's Note: The original headline published Sunday misrepresented the sourcing for this story. The administration did not release this information to The Chronicle.

Augusta's existing transit, public services, parks and recreation, solid waste, planning and zoning, licensing and inspections, and disadvantaged business enterprise departments are about to undergo radical change, a proposed 2011 organizational chart shows.

Under development for several months by select department heads and Administrator Fred Russell, the chart doesn't include any of those departments -- at least not as they exist now. The chart doesn't include information on employee numbers, and officials won't discuss layoffs -- yet.

The document, a copy of which was provided to The Augusta Chronicle , is telling in how it differs from the city's existing structure.

Augusta Public Transit, which operates the bus system, is replaced by a department called "transportation/special projects." Russell recently announced that a request for qualifications from private transit operators was being finalized.

Public services, a department split off from public works five years ago and headed by 37-year veteran employee Mike Greene, is gone.

Approximately 200 employees in the department maintain city buildings, facilities, roads and grounds, including cemeteries and trees.

Greene, denying knowledge or involvement in the departmental restructuring, said his department's performance of services has been limited recently because of the city's hiring freeze.

"I'm not going to speculate," Greene said, when questioned about the future of public services. "I just don't have the answers to give staff when they ask."

What will replace the department is not detailed in the new chart, but its functions could be outsourced, returned to engineering or utilities or subsumed into departments reconfigured in the new plan.

Solid waste becomes "environmental services," and parks and recreation turns into "recreation, parks and facilities."

Something similar is in store for licensing and inspections, a department led by Rob Sherman that also is missing from the new chart.

Licensing and inspections, which has occupied a building on Marvin Griffin Road in south Augusta since consolidation, is destined for a move when its functions are either shifted downtown into the chart's new "planning and development" department, moved elsewhere or outsourced.

With total collections of about $12 million annually, the department's 42 or 43 staffers conduct building and property maintenance inspections, issue construction permits and licenses to serve and sell alcohol and collect tourism fees and excise taxes on hotel rooms, car rentals, mixed drinks and wholesale goods, Sherman said.

Sherman, 57, has worked in local government for 33 years, including 13 as the head of licensing and inspections, and said he hadn't planned to retire anytime soon.

An issue with consolidating licensing and inspections with planning is available space at the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building. Room won't be available until court officials move from there into the new judicial building, still under construction, Sherman said.

Top leaders in the new city plan also get new names. Russell becomes a CEO. Under him, just two executives, a chief information officer and chief operations officer, oversee all 11 remaining departments. Fire, 911, animal services, the Richmond County Correctional Institution and emergency management fall under one heading, "emergency services."

The COO will oversee emergency services and environmental services; recreation, parks and facilities; utilities and engineering.

Robert Leverett, a 39-year employee who has worked double-time as the correctional institution's warden and interim deputy administrator for operations for the past six years, is retiring.

Russell said he had completed four interviews last week for one of the two executive slots and finalists soon will visit Augusta.

The city's other interim deputy administrator for six years, Tameka Allen, serves double duty as county information technology director.

The new CIO post oversees the departments of customer service, IT, transportation/special projects, planning and development and housing and community development.

Allen is likely to be considered for that job.

Russell said he worried that the release of information about the restructuring before it was finalized and approved "puts a lot of people under pressure that might not be under pressure."

Last week, several Augusta commissioners questioned the budget resolution they adopted, which gave Russell the authority in 2011 to "reorganize the departmental structure of the government" to cut $1.5 million from a $9 million budget deficit.

"We will ultimately have to sit down with the administrator and approve it," Commissioner Corey Johnson said. "It's going to take all 10 of us, plus the administrator."

Others thought they might not have given Russell enough power.

"We shouldn't get into the management of the day-to-day government," Commissioner Joe Jackson said.

Both commissioners, however, suggested there was room for streamlining.

"Maintenance is one of the key areas that we're looking at," Johnson said, and Jackson said that several managers "seem like they don't fit the mold, that just want to hang around and bide their time."

Russell said the time had arrived for Augusta to become the consolidated, efficient government it ought to be but that he would seek commission approval for the major changes.

"It's incumbent on us to make sure we get the most bang for the buck," he said.

Although the commission signs off on the budgets of departments headed by elected or statutory officials -- Augusta's magistrate, probate, state and superior courts and the offices of sheriff, district attorney, coroner and tax commissioner, for example -- neither it nor city management can compel restructuring, furloughs or reductions in force in those departments.

At the start of the budgeting process, Russell said, he encouraged those departments to be innovative but has seen limited results so far.

It is undecided whether the restructuring plan will go before the commission as a whole.

City policy, including that stated in a revised employee handbook presented last week, provides that department heads be notified 60 days before the effective dates of employee layoffs.

Revising structure

2010 Organization

I. Mayor/Commission

    A. City Administrator

             1. Finance

             2. Human Resources

             3. Deputy Administrator

                          a. IT, Procurement

                          b. Housing & Community Development

                          c. Planning & Projects

             4. Deputy Administrator

                          a. Public Services

                          b. Parks & Rec

                          c. Solid Waste

                          d. Transit

                          e. Engineering

                          f. Utilities

                          g. 911

                          h. RCCI

                          i. Fire & EMA

                          j. Licensing & Inspections

                          k. Animal Services

2011 PROPOSED ORGANIZATION

I. Mayor/Commission

A. CEO

             1. Finance

             2. Human Resources

             3. CIO

                          a. Customer Service

                          b. Transportation/Special Projects

                          c. Procurement

                          d. IT

                          e. Planning & Development

                          f. Housing & Community Development

             4. COO

                          a. Environmental Services

                          b. Recreation Parks & Facilities

                          c. Utilities

                          d. Engineering

                          e. Emergency Services

Comments (28) Add comment
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Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 12/04/10 - 11:53 pm
0
0
Well then...

Well then...

MJ
0
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MJ 12/05/10 - 02:14 am
0
0
"disadvantaged business" or

"disadvantaged business" or simply mismanaged?

WoodyKaminer
2
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WoodyKaminer 12/05/10 - 02:53 am
0
0
"We shouldn't get into the

"We shouldn't get into the management of the day-to-day government," Commissioner Joe Jackson said.

Isnt that what you are there for?

And watch out Deke, he will be renaming/eliminating your postion too.

GECOBIE
0
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GECOBIE 12/05/10 - 03:54 am
0
0
Its about time Augusta tried

Its about time Augusta tried to come into the 21st Century. Augusta Public Transit has always been behind the times and some changes are way pass being needed.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 12/05/10 - 06:39 am
0
0
If Sams keeps her job this is

If Sams keeps her job this is all a bunch of BS......................

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/05/10 - 06:50 am
0
0
All you have to do is look at
Unpublished

All you have to do is look at the example of the Augusta Entertainment Complex and see what happens when government gets out of the way and let's professionals do the job. The once embarrassing authority is now an outstanding model for the rest of the government to follow.

Brad Owens
4921
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Brad Owens 12/05/10 - 08:04 am
0
0
What about all the boards

What about all the boards that get money? No cuts there?

Austin Rhodes
3002
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Austin Rhodes 12/05/10 - 08:30 am
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0
LONG, LONG, LONG

LONG, LONG, LONG overdue...WAY TOO LONG !

Southern_Patriot
0
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Southern_Patriot 12/05/10 - 08:36 am
0
0
Augusta will never be nothing

Augusta will never be nothing more than a 3rd rate city because the people than run the city have no vision and if you don't believe it drive down Main St. Greenville, SC. When Donaldson AFB closed down in the mid 60's and the cotton mills in the mid 80's city govt went out and brought new industry to town, Greenville County has a population right at 1/2 million and a international airport.

MistaChuckD
0
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MistaChuckD 12/05/10 - 09:54 am
0
0
"We shouldn't get into the

"We shouldn't get into the management of the day-to-day government," Commissioner Joe Jackson said.

So what exactly is it you SHOULD be doing? He should be removed from office the next time he is on the ballot.

MistaChuckD
0
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MistaChuckD 12/05/10 - 09:56 am
0
0
I agree with you

I agree with you Southern_Patriot. Augusta is just a little country town which happens to have a lot of people and occupy a lot of land.

dichotomy
37616
Points
dichotomy 12/05/10 - 10:06 am
0
0
Well, I hope this

Well, I hope this helps.....BUT......in my experience, reorganizing is what government agencies do when things are bad and they don't know how to fix them. Usually the only thing that results from reorganization is a lot of folks get important sounding titles, accompanied by pay raises, to "oversee" functions that they know nothing about. Most of the time massive reorganizations like this are just an exercise of throwing mud on a wall and seeing what sticks. Especially if the commissioners get involved and start protecting the jobs of their buddies, cousins, and girlfriends. But things can't get much worse around here so go ahead and give it a shot and try to keep the commissioners out of it. Please publicize any attempt, or rumor of an attempt, of a commissioner trying to influence the reorganization to protect individuals. Oh yeh, and you haven't accomplished much if you don't clean house in the Procurement office.

And I am not sure IT should be stuck under the CIO. IT needs to be under someone who actually knows what is possible though IT. IT should be an integral part of Operations and may well belong under the COO. IN REAL CITIES, not Augusta, I can log on and pay my taxes, pay my water bill, renew my car tags, look up property plats, tax valuations, contact city agencies, apply for permits, and do almost anything I need to do to interact with the local government. In Augusta I can look at pictures of the commissioners and send an email to Augusta Cares and that is about it. I can't figure out if Augusta's backwater web site is caused by inept IT personnel, inept management of the IT personel, or is just a continuation of the Augusta policies of hiding information from the public and doing everything they can to make it difficult to do anything or find out anything. Oh I forgot, if we did anything progressive with IT we would not need all of those county employees at the marble palace to stand at the counters and handle irritable customers who are standing in line waiting to do something that would have taken 5 minutes on their computer at home.

Riverman1
94247
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Riverman1 12/05/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
It seems that Rob Sherman

It seems that Rob Sherman recently ticked off an influential person in town who is being sued by the federal Justice Department. Is Sherman still going to testify in that trial about the business license of the company?

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 12/05/10 - 10:24 am
0
0
Hey, where did Fred and

Hey, where did Fred and Deke's "contract hit man" end up?

dani
13
Points
dani 12/05/10 - 11:55 am
0
0
Southern Patriot..I often

Southern Patriot..I often hear praises for Greenville, you think maybe we could steal their leaders from them.
I have friends who go to the mall there to shop
because of the quiet luxurious atmosphere. I will have to give it a try.

Junket831
0
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Junket831 12/05/10 - 12:20 pm
0
0
Austin is correct this is way

Austin is correct this is way overdue, by at least a decade. However, a reorganization in itself is not necessary if the result is not far fewer managers and an overall decrease in employees.

To the responders who complain that the CEO will have too much power and that Commissioners would not be doing their job, you have it all wrong. The role of an elected official is to hire the CEO, insure that government is providing the services needed and that the CEO and their staff are following policy and procedures passed by the Commission or legislature.

Lawpig
0
Points
Lawpig 12/05/10 - 12:42 pm
0
0
Yes, Southerpatriot,

Yes, Southerpatriot, Greenville does have an international airport--with no actual international flights. And it does have a fantastic mall, which has the same exact stores as Augusta Mall. Oh yeah, and Augusta has a half million people in its metro area, but oh well.

I have friends who grew up in Greenville (under 30 years old) who, in high school, wouldn't have gone to downtown Greenville because it was so dangerous. The city has transformed its downtown. We are trying to do that in Augusta. It's a work in progress. It takes time. Also, all cities have crime and all cities go through bad years.

I'm not picking on Greenville. I like Greenville a lot. I think we should emulate it as much as possible. But I'm growing more and more resentful of the absurd comments on here that put Augusta down at every turn. No matter what we have here, you people still whine and complain and insult every idea that anyone has, meanwhile offering nothing to the discussion.

fontana
0
Points
fontana 12/05/10 - 01:29 pm
0
0
Say all the good things you

Say all the good things you will about Greenville, it's still in South Carolina! Also, people, especially frequent fliers from the area, drive to Charlotte's Douglas Airport, or even to Augusta or Atlanta, to escape the much higher fares at Greenville.

TrulyWorried
16706
Points
TrulyWorried 12/05/10 - 02:40 pm
0
0
One thing is a fact, no

One thing is a fact, no matter what the outcome will be on all these changes and reorganizations - the local sign makers and printers will finally have some meaningful work - unless it gets outsourced - as they call it. But they wouldn't dare - would they??? Or have an outsider come in to do a 'study'?! I just hope a lot of people with common sense and a desire to truly accomplish the right thing will be at the helm of all this. So far there is very little to actually understand as to who does what to whom.

Sweet son
11762
Points
Sweet son 12/05/10 - 03:01 pm
0
0
Mike Greene is gone but

Mike Greene is gone but Tameka stays wonder what that is about. CEO, COO, CIO give me a break. It's like another commentor said it is just a way of renaming non performing departments and people and when it is over and done you still have non performance. Probably need the Department of Justice to oversee this proposal. (Tongue in cheek humor). Get 'em Austin. As I said the other day this stuff is good fodder for your show and this time I really mean fodder!!!

MrTruthBeTold
0
Points
MrTruthBeTold 12/05/10 - 03:09 pm
0
0
dichotomy, I am not sure what

dichotomy, I am not sure what website you looked at. After revewing the Augusta website , I found you could pay your taxes, water bills, etc. I also noticed it offered detailed property information and a number of other services to include streaming Commission meetings. I find all of this to be userful and readily available on their site!! I also read that the City of Augusta's was just ranked 7 in the nation compared to other agencies their size in the Digital Citites Contest because of the great work done by the IT Department.

There are certainly issues in the government that need addressing and maybe this proposed re-organization is the solution. However, I do not think IT is one of the issues.

Riverman1
94247
Points
Riverman1 12/05/10 - 04:49 pm
0
0
oops

oops

TrulyWorried
16706
Points
TrulyWorried 12/05/10 - 05:00 pm
0
0
To pay the waterbill on line

To pay the waterbill on line costs $4.95 - I tried - I'd rather use an envelope and 44 cents postage - a wee bit too steep for my wallet, bill is high enough as it is.

MysteryWriter
0
Points
MysteryWriter 12/05/10 - 05:03 pm
0
0
dichotomy wrote: "And I am

dichotomy wrote:
"And I am not sure IT should be stuck under the CIO. IT needs to be under someone who actually knows what is possible though IT. IT should be an integral part of Operations and may well belong under the COO."

Perhaps you should read the article a little better. As quoted, the "city's other interim deputy administrator for six years, Tameka Allen, serves double duty as county information technology director" which she's held for almost 10 years having worked for the city/county for twenty something and Allen is likely to be considered for the CIO job so someone with that much experience is a GREAT candidate for a CIO position.

Since MrTruthBeTold addressed the other 'issue' about Augusta's website one which ALL the services you quoted for 'REAL CITIES' are available and have been for years...I'll just leave it at that and agree that IT is definitely NOT an issue with Augusta-Richmond County government.

MysteryWriter
0
Points
MysteryWriter 12/05/10 - 05:11 pm
0
0
TrulyWorried, that's a bank

TrulyWorried, that's a bank charge, which even large cities like Atlanta, Columbia, etc must pay, and not something from the city so there is little the city can do about that but you should check out Easy Pay. http://www.augustaga.gov/index.aspx?NID=753 My parents use this and don't pay any transaction charges.

augusta citizen
10056
Points
augusta citizen 12/05/10 - 06:00 pm
0
0
dani, give Greenville a try,

dani, give Greenville a try, you won't be disappointed.

TrulyWorried
16706
Points
TrulyWorried 12/05/10 - 07:29 pm
0
0
Thank you - MysteryWriter! I

Thank you - MysteryWriter! I just checked the site and bookmarked it, looks good - and saving money is a must for everyone I am sure.
Merry Christmas to you and everyone that celebrates the Reason for the Season.

Alan English
6
Points
Alan English 12/06/10 - 09:40 am
0
0
Folks, The Chronicle may have

Folks,
The Chronicle may have added sting into an already stressful situation and we are very sorry for an error in the original headline. I just posted a note at the top of the story:
Editor's Note: The original headline published Sunday misrepresented the sourcing for this story. The administration did not release this information to the Chronicle.

CJ3
0
Points
CJ3 12/06/10 - 04:26 pm
0
0
"Although the commission

"Although the commission signs off on the budgets of departments headed by elected or statutory officials -- Augusta's magistrate, probate, state and superior courts and the offices of sheriff, district attorney, coroner and tax commissioner, for example -- neither it nor city management can compel restructuring, furloughs or reductions in force in those departments."

Does this mean these department's employees did not HAVE to furlough or is it just the elected official themselves who didn't have to???

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