Absences from meeting on restructuring noted

As details of Augusta's restructuring plan emerge, a closed-door meeting of select department heads Monday did not escape the notice of those who were not invited.

Proposed radical changes -- revealed in a draft organizational chart leaked by a city official last week -- preserve or expand the departments led by most of those present Monday while eliminating others.

Administrator Fred Russell, who formed the group a few months ago to effectuate a streamlined city government, said its work was nearing completion.

"A lot of our discussion is looking at management positions, and increasing the span of control," Russell said. "We're trying to flatten the organization."

The effort is expected to fill about $1.5 million of a $9 million deficit in the 2011 budget.

The restructuring is being done completely in-house and seeks to transform a government that resembles a column -- with higher-paid staff from top to bottom -- to one with fewer supervisors overseeing the bulk of Augusta personnel.

Present Monday were the heads of Augusta's engineering, planning, human resources, information technology, procurement, recreation and housing and community development departments.

Not everyone there has a sure future with the city, however. In attendance also was Heyward Johnson, whose transit department isn't on the new chart.

Russell said a request for proposals from private bus system operators, who likely would hire many displaced Augusta drivers if awarded a city contract, was nearing completion.

Also present Monday was longtime employee Robert Leverett, who recently announced his retirement as deputy city administrator and head of the city's inmate labor camp.

The changes are not on the agenda for today's commission meeting, but Russell has said he's meeting with commissioners one-on-one to ensure that he has sufficient support to implement the restructuring plan.

City has outline for reorganizing

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