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Bremerton's new year's resolution: Lose weight

Bremerton's new mayor wants to know where to trim fat from the city budget, but some councilmembers are skeptical.

The Seattle-based Prothman Company is interviewing about 50 city directors and managers on Thursday and Friday, including Mayor Patty Lent, the police chief, legal staff and city council members.

The results of the study, due back in February, will outline improvements city government could make, including how it could best allocate its personnel and dollars, Lent said.

"I need to have an overall or holistic view of the dollars coming in and the dollars being spent and the management of the different personnel," Lent said. "I think this will bring out some new ideas."

Councilman Cecil McConnell expressed skepticism about the study at Wednesday's council study session, but said Thursday he changed his mind. However, he decided to participate in a Friday interview in order to ensure the City Council wouldn't be "short-changed," meaning he doesn't want the result of the study to change how the council's conducts its business.

He emphasized any changes should take place in city departments, rather than the council.

"(That would be) a bunch of baloney," McConnell said.

The idea to investigate city efficiency was brought forth by former Director of Financial Services Andy Parks late last summer, City Attorney Roger Lubovich said.

Lent fired Parks on New Year's Day, but has carried the torch for this initiative.

The study costs the city about $20,000, Lubovich said.

Lubovich, who interviewed with the Prothman Company Thursday morning, said he supports the study, especially given the dwindling stream of city revenue.

"I really believe it's a good idea to have an outside look, as long as it's something we can do," he said. "I want to have my department looked at completely. If there's something I can do better, I want to know what I can do about it."

Not everyone has backed the idea, however. Last month, Councilman Will Maupin criticized the idea, saying that operational evaluations should come from department heads and the mayor.

"I believe it's management's responsibility to continually improve the process we use to get work done so we are efficient as possible," he said in December when the idea was broached. "Most of the management studies I've seen like that are a waste of time and cost."

Lent rejected this notion.

"It's not at all a waste of funds," she said, adding that the advice from the study will more than pay for itself. "Because of our revenue and our economy, I really do want to take and find better ways of spending the dollars that we do have from our taxpayers."

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