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County Comment: Commissioners restructure permitting and plan review, offer retirement incentives

County Comment
Commissioners restructure permitting and plan review, offer retirement incentives
By Norman Bassett
Washington County Public Information Officer

A new structural organization in Washington County Government will aid economic development, homeowners and commercial business while lowering cost of governmental operations.
As part of its regular meeting on March 15th, 2011, the Washington County Board of County Commissioners approved a proposed retirement incentive plan and organizational restructuring as presented by County Administrator Greg Murray.
Murray outlined a voluntary incentive program that allows cost savings through retirement and replacement of existing employees. Over 100 employees would currently be eligible for the incentive, which would include a $10,000 stipend and the possibility of up to three years credit toward full retirement.
Savings could run as high as $1.5 million if all eligible personnel took advantage of the plan.
An organizational restructuring was recently begun, and will continue to increase operational efficiency, consolidate services for ease of access to the public, and reduce the overall number of employees through elimination of vacant positions.
A Division of Plan Review and Permitting has been put into place, allowing a one-stop approach for the entire permitting and plan review process. An Economic Development Specialist will work closely with that division to help streamline processes for new businesses. All inspections will become a function of the Division of Public Works. Planning and zoning departmental activities will also be revised.
Other elements of the restructuring will see a Department of Watershed Management in the Division of Environmental Management created to help the County deal with increasing state and federal regulations, the Recreation Department becomes part of a revised Health and Human Resources Department, Economic Development will house the Agriculture Marketing and Airport Marketing positions, the Gaming Office will move to Budget and Finance and a Public Relations Department will be created to increase public understanding of the workings of County Government.
The projected savings through the components of restructuring is $429,808. Given that the number of employees taking advantage of the retirement incentive is unknown, a minimum combined savings of at least $500,000 is anticipated.

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