Letter: Reorganization plan already being implemented

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The structure of city government and its departments is changing right under our noses, and many of you may not even know it is happening.  Some of the council members are encouraging it in the name of efficiency and cost savings, when in reality, it may cost the taxpayers more money in new midlevel management positions. The organizational chart would change from what it has been for years to possibly only five departments: Administration, police, fire, public works and legal. The library, human resources, the city clerk and the recreation department (which was to partner with other local agencies offering similar services), would all fall under the title of administration and be headed by the assistant city manager. The Parks Department would be under the Public Works Department.

In 2014 the city manager proposed the above reorganization plan at the recommendation of a consultant. That plan, after public input and council discussion, failed with a 5-2 vote against moving forward with it. The public rejected it and obviously five of the seated council members disagreed with its implementation. There were concerns about a lack of clear job descriptions and that employee morale was already at the lowest it had been in years. I believe those are all still valid concerns to this day.

Many of the past departments were like small families; there was respect and true concern for each other’s lives at work and away from work. If you go to a gathering today that includes former and present employees you will still see that same respect, caring and concern for how each other’s lives are going, whether that employee was a former department head or one of his or her employees.                                                                                       

Email newsletter signup

Today’s city government looks more like a power struggle where some are trying to prove they are in control and others are trying to garner control by alienating themselves with people who they believe have control. This is not an efficient or transparent way to run city government. High level positions need to be filled by opening up the position to all strong qualified candidates through local and professional advertisements versus what looks like favoritism. 

The above reorganization plan has already begun to be implemented. The Parks Department has been put under the Public Works Department and the Recreation Department comingles with Community Education. I think this all blurs the lines of accountability and financial responsibilities.

The worst part of what is going on is that this time around management must have thought this reorganization plan could not stand on its own merits, so it was implemented without the public’s input, and the council was not given a chance to publicly discuss it or vote on it. 

As a veteran, I served my country so we would all have a voice in government, and as a taxpayer, I elected individuals to represent my interest and determine how my tax dollars are being spent and city management seems to think they can take those rights away. 

Gary Hagen

Albert Lea