On Tuesday, March 1, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners unanimously approved a reorganizational plan projected to trim $5 million off the county’s $21 million budget shortfall. The $5 million savings plan is a combination of attrition, early retirement incentives and layoffs of 61 county employees and the reduction in some service areas. A Queen Anne’s County press release details the reorganization :
Gregg Todd, county administrator, said “It is important for citizens and county staff to recognize that this is just phase one of an ongoing process that will not be finalized until the adoption of the FY12 Budget this June.”
The Department of Public Safety now includes Emergency Services, the Office of the Sheriff, the Detention Center and Animal Services. The Emergency Services director’s position, held by John Chew, was eliminated. Additionally Public Safety staff was reduced by four positions for a savings of $240,196.
The reorganization of the Department of Community Services, led by Director Cathy Willis, now includes Aging, Housing & Community Services, Local Management Board and Recreation. This consolidation results in a savings of $967,001 through a combination of staffing and service reductions. Since FY08 the overall staff reductions in these areas totals 26 positions. Costly recreation programs will be eliminated as will the Tiny Tots preschool program, and various senior programs such as day/evening meals. Reductions in transportation services will be implemented in the near future, following the required public hearings. The County funded portion of the After School Program of $100,000 was eliminated as was the Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
Department of Public Works, headed by Todd Mohn includes Sanitary (water and sewer), Roads, General Services, Parks, Marinas and Landings, Solid Waste. This consolidation anticipates a savings of $2,243,002. One of the primary services impacted will be a reduction in the number of days each of the county’s five transfer stations are open effective March 30. Instead of each being open six days a week operations will be reduced by approximately 50 percent.
The Department Planning and Zoning, (formerly Land Use, Growth Management and the Environment) under the guidance of Director Steve Cohoon has been reduced by 6 positions this year and a total of 9 positions since FY08 reducing staffing by 33%. The new reorganized Department will now incorporate the responsibilities for Agricultural Preservation and associated easement inspections. Staff reductions include two senior planners, inspectors and permit technicians as well as additional reductions in services totaling $536, 601.
The County Administration function is comprised of multiple departments with the Finance and Human Resources being directed by Gregg Todd, county administrator. Faith Elliott-Rossing, director of Economic Development & Tourism, will now oversee the departments of Information Technology, QACTV7, and Enterprise Funds. “A part of this consolidation will be to investigate opportunities to outsource services and maximize revenues and minimize expenses,” Elliott-Rossing said.
Commission President Steve Arentz said, “These decisions were not made lightly and we understand the difficult challenges that lie ahead.”