With several county department heads looking to retire within the next couple of years, Kitsap County Commissioners have decided to take a look at reorganizing to become more efficient.
County Commissioner Josh Brown said this week that the restructuring move came about after a discussion the commissioners had at a retreat last year.
“The retreat was really for us to look at the big strategic items for the county,” he said. “One of those was the possibility of restructuring within the county to make better use of the resources we have.”
Brown said, like many large businesses and organizations such as Boeing, the county knows it is “demographically challenged.”
“Some of our best people are nearing retirement,” he said. “We knew we needed to put a plan in place and so we decided on the leadership continuity plan.”
That plan, he said, took the challenges of losing experienced people to retirements, the objective of meeting the needs of the public and the need to be more efficient. It addressed how some positions could be combined and how some could be separated in order to have each position work. No positions will be cut, he said, only changed through attrition.
One example, is the position of county administrator which has been vacant since Nancy Buonanno Grennan left two years ago. Instead of filling that job, commissioners have decided to create the position of chief administrative officer.
Brown said rather than have a county administrator manage the six county directors, the chief administrative officer will oversee the departments within the county that deal with things such as budget, management of facilities, and human resources including labor negotiations and employee wellness programs.
“Under this plan those divisions will report to the chief administrative officer,” he said.
The county is currently aware of two retirements, that of Bert Furuta, human services department director, and Randy Castell, director of the department of public works. Others are anticipated within the next couple of years, but haven’t been announced.
Furuta will leave at the end of June, and instead of hiring someone to replace him, the county will split the department, creating a human services director position. The director will be responsible for 84 employees and a $50 million budget that consists of money from the state and federal government to county social service agencies.
The other portion of Furuta’s job — director of personnel — will fall under human resources.
“It’s unusual to have those two things fall under one person,” Brown said. “It would have been impossible to find someone to fill that position as it has been, so we decided to break it apart.”
The human resources department will report to the chief administrative officer. In turn, that person will report to the commission.
Brown said later in the year the commission will look at restructuring the departments that work more with the public, such as planning, parks and public works. Castell is set to retire at the end of 2013.
“Our goal is to find efficient ways to operate,” said Brown. “We’re not just going to fill a position because it comes open. We want to do what makes the most sense and I’m really proud of the commission for taking this on.”
Brown said he doubts that the county will be able to fill many of the positions that have been cut in recent years because of finances, but as employees are hired, he hopes to find ways that they can work between departments and create efficiency.
Commissioners Wednesday hired a human services director. (See related story)
The chief administrative officer position has been advertised and recruitment is underway.