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Report details savings from Augusta reorganization

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The report arrived in Augusta Commission members’ mailboxes Monday.

Inside, City Administrator Fred Russell attempts to provide a numerical justification for his ongoing reorganization of city government.

The verdict: The changes will save the city $2,026,246 annually, but only $675,400 this year, because it hasn’t been fully implemented.

Russell also recommends, in the packet mailed to the commission while he’s on vacation for a week, that the city repay employees for two upcoming furlough days.

For months, commissioners Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett have demanded a detailed report on actual savings from the reorganization, but the demand spread across the entire commission earlier this month when members learned that Russell had awarded retroactive raises to 44 employees impacted by the reorganization. The move prompted Mason to call for Russell’s job, but only Lockett and two other commissioners joined Mason in voting to fire the administrator.

Russell, who has stated the raises were given because the 44 employees took on additional duties under the reorganized government, detailed the department-level changes but said little in the report about specific job duties.

A portion of the report obtained by The Augusta Chronicle details numerous additional duties and “implemented efficiencies” assigned during the reorganization to the city’s environmental services, engineering, recreation, finance and utilities departments.

In Environmental Services, for example, where seven employees received annual raises totaling $33,340, the department’s overall salaries and benefits paid drop from $2.15 million before the reorganization to $1.83 million after, according to the report.

The department shrank from 61 to 53 personnel as it took on new tasks of street sweeping, vacant lot maintenance, underground tank and industrial stormwater permitting and brownfields, the report says.

Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson, who was among those given a raise, said the changes were working.

“It’s taking new management with a new set of eyes to come up with a new set of solutions,” he said.

In Engineering, where Russell awarded a dozen raises totaling $137,986, total personnel increased from 76 to 166 as the department took on maintenance of vegetation; drainage; ponds; bridges; Augusta Levee; trees, asphalt and concrete construction; and a Georgia Department of Transportation maintenance contract, the report says.

Engineering, where most of the dismantled former Public Services Department landed, saw its total annual salaries and benefits paid increase from $3 million to $5.4 million during the reorganization.

Commission members’ reaction to the report was mixed.

“How can you not be impressed with $2 million in savings?” said Commissioner Jerry Brigham, adding that Augusta government likely was “still somewhat loaded.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Bowles received his copy of the report later and hadn’t had an opportunity to review it, but was skeptical that the cost-savings numbers actually included vacant positions.

Augusta Human Resources Director Rod Powell said some of the positions eliminated in the reorganization were already vacant, although late Tuesday he wasn’t sure of the precise number.

Commissioner Matt Aitken, who was one of the four to vote to fire Russell, said he’d had little time to review the report, but wanted to know more about the city’s current financial picture that might allow it to refund employees for the furlough days.

Lockett said he applauded the decision on the furlough days but questioned the report.

“A lot of these groups come out of an enterprise fund,” he said of reorganizing departments such as Utilities and Solid Waste that generate revenue on their own and reinvest it.

He also questioned why some of the employees given raises oversee functions now being studied, according to the report, for privatization.

“It seems to me like we are playing a shell game,” Lockett said.

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whiteflighttocc1
20
Points
whiteflighttocc1 08/24/11 - 09:26 am
0
0
you can cook the books to
Unpublished

you can cook the books to show whatever you want. Fred is a lame duck at this point. He is useless. Why is he still there??? Because Deke convinced Jerry Brigham to change his vote so Deke wouldnt have to make a stand. COWARDS!!!! THey all know fred is on his way out but nobody wants to be the bad guy.

I BET FRED WAS LOOKING FOR A NEW JOB WHILE ON VACATION. HE KNOWS THE END IS IN SITE AND IT IS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE ONE OF THE 6 GROW A PAIR. BOWLES IS MAKING IT SO THAT MASON BECOMES MAYOR UNCONTESTED!!!!!

Willow Bailey
20601
Points
Willow Bailey 08/24/11 - 10:49 am
0
0
DuhJudge, who said any of

DuhJudge, who said any of them should have had a raise? To borrow from you, "in this economy, they should be glad they HAVE a job."

The bottom line is, any "manager" who hands out raises while furloughing others, and cuts critical depts, PRIOR to presenting his REORG PLAN, just plainly speaking has purchased a cart without a horse.

I might have been given full authority in a managerial position to do and spend as I please, however, 9 million in the hole, would send an alarm bell, that I had better think first, consult a lot, and garner support for any major decisions that would further affect that number.

Fred had to know, he was in trouble, so did he do this to try to get a Golden Canning? It surely appears as arrogance.

The next "study" should be one of the City treasury.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/24/11 - 01:02 pm
0
0
Due to so many city employees

Due to so many city employees encouraging taxpayers to sue the city, any savings forecast need to be figured after settlement of current and future lawsuits.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 08/24/11 - 01:52 pm
0
0
Austin said, "BTW...if you

Austin said, "BTW...if you think solid minority control of city government is going to bring about peaceful, happy change...I urge you to consider the track record of Atlanta, Detroit, New Orleans, etc. etc. etc.

The color of the controlling political force is not a factor in the relative honesty/serenity of the resulting government, that depends on the integrity and intellect of the individuals involved."

Does it follow that a minority dominated government CAN'T have integrity? I'm simply being a realist and pointing out Richmond County has a growing minority population that will sooner or later control most Richmond County government elected positions.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/24/11 - 02:16 pm
0
0
Does anyone think that Fred

Does anyone think that Fred Russell has eight bosses? Well he does not. He has one. And that is a majority vote. He does have eight interrogators . And eight opinions. But thank the Lord, these RC employees have Fred to fight for them. And the taxpayers should be thankful too. You may disagree with his decision, but it is because you are focused on fairness and sharing. He is the Boss. He made a decisive move. That is what Bosses do. There is no crying in baseball. Same here.

Willow Bailey
20601
Points
Willow Bailey 08/24/11 - 03:12 pm
0
0
You are wrong about the

You are wrong about the crying...taxpayers either cry out for honesty, fiscal responsibility and transparency in their government or they have to cough up more dollars for waste and pilfering.

The City, like Washington,D.C., has NO money of its own. No startup capital, no majority stock, no ownership of revenues...it all belongs to the people of Augusta.

DuhJudge caters to the arrogance of government and his attitude is reflective throughout government at every level.

Crime Reports and Rewards TV
33
Points
Crime Reports and Rewards TV 08/24/11 - 03:28 pm
0
0
Well said Willow.

Well said Willow.

tomcasey
-2
Points
tomcasey 08/24/11 - 08:41 pm
0
0
DuhJudge... Bad management is

DuhJudge...

Bad management is how this raise debacle was handled and horrible communication. Yes it will lead to bad morale. Maybe just maybe that is the true Fred Russell reorganization plan people close to retire will do so and the ones able to look elsewhere will do so.

With the city county being in the 'red' why not postpone the raises until a better time and then hand them out to all. I have seen places like you mentioned where everyone that could took a 5% decrease to preserve jobs. I have been places where managers worked 40 hour but only charged for 20hrs to be an example in 'hard' times.

It is only in Augusta where 15% raises are handed out like manna from heaven to only a few and every else gets nada...to quote the crows from Dumbo, 'Did you ever see an elephant fly? Well, I've seen a horse fly. Ah, I've seen a dragon fly. Hee-hee. I've seen a house fly. Guess I have seen elephants fly'.

In other words I have seen it all now.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/24/11 - 09:53 pm
0
0
Y'all are still trying to

Y'all are still trying to give away money. Share it with everyone, be fair. How does that make someone a better Administrator? Don't you see how other people have exploited this issue for their own purposes? Some people just plain make more and for good reason. But nobody is entitled to a raise just because someone else got one. What kind of reasoning is that? Did everyone join a union around here? Or have you been drinking too much of the Presidents Kool-Aid? I thought this town was having a Tea Party but now I see y'all are all FED fed. The boss made a decision without asking someone first, right? So who should he have asked? Form your answer as the question he would have asked. I want to know who is a better Boss than Fred.

Willow Bailey
20601
Points
Willow Bailey 08/24/11 - 10:17 pm
0
0
DuhJudge, wrong again. None

DuhJudge, wrong again. None of us replying to you are trying to give away money, in fact, quite the opposite, did you read anything? And not one of us are Obama fans, either. We thought by your posts, that you were though. We are having a Tea Party, you know fiscal & personal responsibility, accountability, consider the good of all, not just a chosen few... Wish you would stop referring to county employee's as the Boss. The taxpayers are Boss, and come next election, they are planning to kick some cans to the curb. Do you think your's will be one of them?

Little Lamb
46370
Points
Little Lamb 08/24/11 - 10:45 pm
0
0
DuhJudge wrote: Y'all are

DuhJudge wrote:

Y'all are still trying to give away money. Share it with everyone, be fair.

Not me! I want to give 5% across the board salary cuts to all city workers. And I want each department head to submit a plan to reduce the total number of city workers by 2% each year for the next 5 years. We have to reduce the size and the scope of government or the taxpayers will bleed to death.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/25/11 - 12:08 am
0
0
That is great, 5% cuts,

That is great, 5% cuts, layoffs, etc. Now I am very confused. If Fred had done that instead, what kind of rhetoric would that have started? And no, the taxpayers are NOT bosses. Their collective voice gets heard, but the 2600 employees require A boss. Why? Because it is not their job to worry about spending, saving, or raising money. They are just like any other employee. Its not their money so they don't respect it as they would if it was. They all require managing. So a good boss choses people with certain skills to help him manage them. Fred has compensated new responsibilities. Calling them raises is what is wrong. I by the way would have been the worst Administrator because I would have been so much more unilateral and aggressive with reductions.

Willow Bailey
20601
Points
Willow Bailey 08/25/11 - 08:55 am
0
0
You have truly identified the

You have truly identified the problem. Government doesn't need more Boss/hogs, they need servant/leadership.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 08/25/11 - 04:48 pm
0
0
Quite the opposite. And if

Quite the opposite. And if you don't give him the power to execute then why give him the power to reward. They do need a strong willed boss with vision and discipline. Count up the projects that have been started and completed with his leadership. Then give a fair assessment, not an abridged critique.

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