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Board unveils office shifts; Commissioners cut 6 posts; 2 aides share chief of staff duties; $300,000 savings; Changes in planning set to 'streamline' development process


The Carroll Board of County Commissioners announced yesterday the reorganization of four departments, the elimination of several key positions and the goals of their four-year term, claiming the changes could save taxpayers $300,000.

The commissioners said the county will save in salaries and benefits by eliminating six positions, most of them in the planning department. The changes take effect today.

"We're aiming for efficiency in government," said board President Julia Walsh Gouge. "We've outlined our goals for the next four years. This reorganization is basic to how we'll make everything work together."

One of the most notable changes will be in the commissioners' office. Chief of staff, a post created by the former board of commissioners four years ago, will be replaced by two executive assistants -- Robert A. "Max" Bair, who has been serving as chief of staff, and Patrick Hill, who worked for many years in land acquisition.

Hill will supervise daily administration, organize the commissioners' schedules and work with the cabinet. Bair will oversee zoning and licensing, public safety and public information.

"We wanted to give Max more time to work on crime-fighting and legislative issues," said Gouge. "He is an extremely valuable asset with good recall. This position will give him an opportunity to get out and represent the board in Annapolis and in the community."

As part of the reorganization, the commissioners also eliminated the bureau of environmental services and consolidated several other departments.

The board announced the promotion of Steven Horn from bureau chief to director of planning. Horn began working in the department as a comprehensive planner 11 years ago. He replaces Philip J. Rovang, who resigned Feb. 12.

Under Horn, the department will concentrate on comprehensive planning. The planners will be responsible for all aspects of their assigned geographic areas, including transportation issues.

The reorganization eliminated two transportation planners and the county's commuter coordinator, as well as three management positions. The deputy director of planning, the bureau chief of environmental services and the assistant bureau chief of water resource management received two months' severance pay.

"Whatever openings are available, these people will be considered," said Lynn McDonald, acting director of human resources. She said the department would notify them of "every opportunity, to see if they are interested."

The changes in the department of planning sparked creation of a Department of Permits, Inspection and Review.

The commissioners said they hoped the new department would "streamline" what is often a long and cumbersome development process.

"We wanted to respond to citizen concerns," Gouge said. "We were concerned whether we were answering people quickly enough. Hopefully, this will help us address questions before they're asked."

The Department of Recreation and Parks was also affected by the restructuring. The department has been folded into the newly created Department of Enterprise and Recreation Services, which will be responsible for solid-waste and utility service and the regional airport.

The rationale for the change, the commissioners said, was that each of those areas is self-sufficient.

"Any successful business has a plan with goals and leaders who will carry out that plan. Government should be run like a business," said Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier. "We've put together our best team to enthusiastically guide and support the plan we've come up with."

That plan outlines the commissioners' goals, including crime and substance-abuse prevention, road improvements, agricultural preservation, economic development and a strengthened relationship with the county Board of Education.

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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