County Manager Announces Re-organization Of Two Key Departments: CEDD And Public Works

Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess

COUNTY News:

The Los Alamos County Council will consider a Resolution next Tuesday evening to adopt a re-organization of two key County departments: Community & Economic Development and Public Works.

The changes were announced by County Manager Harry Burgess, in conjunction with the publication of the agenda for Tuesday’s regular council meeting at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers. Burgess commented on the proposed re-organization and highlighted his reasons for the change in a memo to County employees and statement to local residents.

“Given the recent resignation of our Community and Economic Development Department (CEDD) Director Anne Laurent, I felt it was an appropriate time to reflect upon our current structure and consider whether or not changes are warranted,” Burgess said. “Any recommended changes are not a reflection upon the past director, however the County organizational structure should be periodically considered and altered as new challenges and projects require. I had the opportunity to review our organization in light of the goals adopted by the Council to move Los Alamos toward its 20-year vision, which was an important consideration ahead of beginning the recruitment for a replacement director for CEDD.”

Council approval of the proposed re-organization is necessary under the County’s Charter. According to the Charter, “the Council may establish, by resolution, County departments it finds necessary to provide the services and functions required for the public good and shall prescribe the functions of the departments established.” 

The proposed re-organization outlined by Burgess in the agenda documents describes a shift of four specific areas of responsibility housed in the current CEDD structure. These four areas will be moved into two other departments: Management of capital projects, facilities and custodial services will be moved into the Public Works Department. Economic development functions will be moved into the County Manager’s Office. 

Burgess commented on the need for a shift in responsibilities, emphasizing that the remaining functions will then more closely resemble a traditional Community Development Department (CDD), which focuses on permitting, code enforcement, housing, planning and zoning. The title of the department and its director will be changed to reflect this focus, he said.

“Making these changes now will benefit the staff in CDD by allowing them to focus on their top priorities for the coming months,” Burgess said, citing work underway on the new commercial and residential building permit tracking software, updates to the property maintenance code and enhanced code enforcement programs, as well as public outreach and an update that is forthcoming for the County’s Comprehensive Plan in 2016.

“All of these projects are expected to be demanding, but will have a positive impact on the customer’s experience with CDD and overall quality of life for our community,” he said. “Once implemented, they will result in better community planning, staff efficiencies, consistency and accountability to our residents and businesses.”

Burgess said that he anticipates recruiting for a CDD director in a more traditional role will be easier than hiring an employee who is skilled, educated and has the experience needed for the broader duties listed in the CEDD director position today.

Coupled with the re-constitution of a more traditional CDD department, Burgess said he anticipates other benefits will be recognized by relocating the other functions within Public Works. The restructuring plan calls for the reinstitution of the County Engineer title, and it is anticipated that this position will be an upgrade of the present Engineering Manager position to reflect the additional duties associated with the supervision of capital projects and their associated staff.

“Moving capital projects to be housed in the Public Works department – and more specifically under the leadership of a County Engineer – will align all of our project managers for both road and building projects,” Burgess noted, adding that this move will create opportunities for shared workload, cross-training and additional back-up in the office when a specific project manager is not available.

Burgess said that placing custodial and facilities division functions under Public Works would offer similar benefits.

“Housing custodial and facilities division staff in Public Works maintains a strong link between these functions and our project management staff, which increases internal communication, offering opportunities for service improvements and better resource allocation,” he said.

Public Works currently houses Atomic City Transit, the airport, environmental services, roadway and sidewalk maintenance, fleet maintenance and engineering/project management for roadway construction projects. Because the re-organization of Public Works to absorb these new divisions from CEDD will make it one of the largest departments in the County, a Deputy Public Works director is being proposed for Council’s consideration Tuesday night. This new position would assist with oversight of the divisions being added into the department, and is expected to have an office at the Pajarito Cliffs Site (PCS) – the County’s main operational facility for staff supporting Public Works functions.

“Housing the deputy at PCS would provide a stronger level of supervision for the myriad activities occurring at this site,” Burgess said. “The establishment of a deputy will also provide enhanced backup when the Public Works director is out of the office, as well as providing for staff development/succession planning as we work to grow our employees’ skills.”

Finally, Burgess commented on his decision to relocate the Economic Development division to the County Manager’s office, where it had been housed five years ago upon its initial creation.

“Having the economic development function reside at the level of the County Manager’s office will more closely align with economic development strategies and implementation functions that already reside within my office,” Burgess said, adding that the move would also provide more direct staff support to the division, which focuses on new economic business opportunities, marketing, branding and tourism.

The addition of the new Deputy Public Works director will require a budget adjustment by Council. The new position would be funded from the General Fund balance. Recruitment for a CDD director and transition to the new organizational structure would proceed if approved by Council Tuesday evening.

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