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Planning director Rovang resigns; Move comes amid talk of staffing upheaval


Amid reports of upheaval in county government, the Carroll board of commissioners has accepted the resignation of its director of planning.

As Philip J. Rovang prepares to leave office March 3, county employees are concerned that other staff changes are pending. Several employees, who asked not to be named, said supervisors told them Friday that the commissioners had asked all department directors to submit letters of resignation and reapply for their positions.

Commissioners Julia Walsh Gouge and Donald I. Dell refused to confirm or deny that the three-member board had asked for any resignations. However, both said they are "reorganizing" county government, a process that is expected to take as long as 10 days.

"We may end up making very few changes," said Gouge, who with her colleagues met on Thursday with the bureau chiefs of all departments to determine the extent of changes. "We're not sure yet. After yesterday's meeting, I'm satisfied that things stay pretty much as they are."

Said Dell: "I think it will take a week to 10 days for us to wrap things up. I don't want to make any comments until we're finished. I don't think that would be fair to the staff."

Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier did not return repeated telephone calls to her home and office. Several department heads refused to comment.

"I can't discuss that with you," county attorney Laurell Taylor said of resignation requests. "For one thing, that is a personnel issue that is covered under the public information act, not to mention the attorney-client privilege."

Rovang, who has worked for the county since October 1995, refused to comment on anything but his own resignation, which he announced to his staff Friday.

"I came to realize there were differences on how we should proceed and what our vision for growth in the county should be," Rovang said. He declined to elaborate.

Rovang was hired in 1995 to update the master plan for growth in the county and to develop a growth control ordinance. He leaves after accomplishing both goals, he said.

Praised as 'very effective'

In anticipation of his resignation, Rovang, who moved to Westminster from Iowa, said he has been looking for another job.

"I would like to remain in Carroll County, but I guess I will become a commuter," he said. "I really enjoy this area, and my experience here in Maryland may make me eligible for a regional job. I am comfortable and confident something will come my way."

Said Gouge: "I wish him the best in the world. Though I've only known Phil a few months, since I've been working with him I've found him to be very effective. I know the community is going to miss him."

Strategic plan

Gouge said the reorganization, which may spark other resignations and the shuffling of personnel, was prompted by the commissioners' efforts to develop a strategic plan for their administration.

Since they took office in December, the commissioners have been meeting with staff to formulate the plan, which is expected to be unveiled this month. County budget director Steven D. Powell has said the plan will be used "to get all the forces moving" in the same direction.

"This is something a new board really has to look at if there's any question as to who is doing what and how things work," Gouge said. "We've been working closely with the staff on this. We didn't want this to be seen as a threatening thing. My hope is that we will be able to move forward once this is done."

Pub Date: 2/14/99

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