News

Winds of change reach Poulsbo city staff Monday

POULSBO — Approaching changes of department heads have created an opportunity for the City of Poulsbo to change things up in a couple of its departments.

And change it will. Although community members may notice little or none of the shake up.

Beginning March 1, an official reorganization will take place in Poulsbo’s Planning, Engineering and Public Works Departments. A document laying out the method for doing so was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Poulsbo City Council at its Jan. 18 meeting.

The plan calls for a number of changes to be made March 1, including:

•Creating a Building Code Compliance Division in the Planning Department

•Combining Public Works and Engineering Departments and initiating recruitment of Public Works Director

•Creating a Utilities Planning, Engineering and Management and Facilities, Grounds and Vehicle Management Divisions in Public Works Department

•Creating an Engineering Division in Public Works

•Continuing temporary detail of Central Services Manager under Utilities Planning, Engineering and Management Division

On July 1, the plan also tentatively calls for initiating a search for a new Utilities Planning, Engineering and Management Division Director anticipating current Public Works Superintendent Bill Duffy’s retirement. Mayor Donna Jean Bruce said the details of that and whether or not it takes place will be partially up to the person who is chosen as the new Public Works Director.

“We’re going to do a search for a Public Works Director who will have management skills, engineering and utility knowledge,” Bruce explained. “There’s a possibility we may not have to back-fill when (Duffy) leaves but the new person will have some say in that.”

The idea of reorganizing the three departments has been discussed since the September findings from the $47,000 Process Study by Seattle’s Miller & Miller Consulting Services were announced.

Among the findings was the suggestion to streamline the permitting process for customers by creating what many communities call a Department of Community Development (DCD). The DCD structure usually includes combined Engineering and Public Works Departments. Locally, Bainbridge Island, Bremerton and Kitsap County use such an organizational system. Bruce said even Poulsbo previously had combined Public Works and Engineering departments in the early 1990s. She added she felt returning to the organization could have some very tangible benefits for the public, especially since all permitting will now take place within the Planning Department.

“Eventually, one-stop shopping and greater coordination between departments,” Bruce said of the biggest up shot she saw to the reorganization.

Talks began in earnest the first of 2004 to figure out how to reconfigure Planning, Engineering and Public Works. The effort was spearheaded by Bruce, the three department heads affected by the change, Deanna Kingsley of human resources and Councilman Dale Rudolph as council liaison.

“I would say we had two basic goals — Improve the land use permitting process and improve the overall operation of the Public Works Department,” Rudolph explained of the proceedings.

Though it will not be called a DCD, Poulsbo’s Engineering and Public Works will be combined into one overriding Public Works Department. Current City Engineer John Stephenson will serve as interim Public Works Director until his June retirement, or until a new person is brought on board.

The job formerly conducted by Duffy will be split into a Utilities Planning, Engineering and Management Division and a Facilities, Grounds and Vehicle Management Division under the Public Works Director. Duffy will oversee the former, while current Assistant Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson will oversee the latter.

Rudolph said he saw this as one of the most needed changes, as it will allow the two directors to focus on their areas of expertise and be more proactive in their jobs.

“I also feel (Duffy) had just been overloaded,” Rudolph commented. “He was a department head and a utility engineer and I’ve said for a long time that that’s two jobs.”

“I’m going to be able to concentrate more on the utility concept and running the utilities,” Duffy commented on the change to his position. “We’ve got some pretty big projects coming up soon and this is going to free me up to do a lot of things I’ve been wanting to do.”

While a basic outline for the reorganization has been approved by council, drafters noted that the details can and may change. The new Public Works Director will have some say over the details of that job. Stephenson commented that his and Duffy’s intended retirements this year have created a scenario where the change is going to have little impact on staff.

“The timing is perfect so you don’t structure your organization around the people you have but you choose the best people to do the job you’ve structured,” Stephenson commented.

Councilman Jeff McGinty agreed at last week’s council meeting. He commented that implementing the changes soon could allow Poulsbo to incorporate its new focus into the hiring process for Stephenson’s and Duffy’s replacements.

“It kind of gives you an idea of the kinds of skills and responsibilities that will be needed for these jobs,” McGinty commented. “This will help you determine what kinds of replacements you might want for those positions.”

Stephenson added that before Monday’s change over, staff have already begun to organize themselves into the new structure. He said as wary as people tend to be about change, this reorganization has been very well received by city staff.

“I have been impressed,” Stephenson told the Public Works Committee Feb. 25. “There have been minimal concerns.”

On the public side, officials said they expect the changes to be almost unnoticeable. Anything community members do notice, they added, will hopefully be positive.

“I think the public might notice some subtle changes but mostly it’s internal, so we can be a little more efficient in our processes,” Stephenson said. “Hopefully, the public didn’t see any inefficiencies before.”

Though the reorganization will officially take place on paper Monday, Rudolph said there will still be details yet to be decided over the next four to six months. First and foremost will be whether any city staff should be physically moved in their locations to accommodate a smoother transition. The council will also be dealing with budget amendments in the near future that will reflect the staffing changes’ effects on each department’s budgets.

“It’s a very complex effect but we don’t think there will be a significant effect,” Rudolph commented on the financial aspect.

Sidebar:

Planning, Engineering and Public Works Structures

Current

•Mayor - Donna Jean Bruce

•Planning Department - Planning Director Barry Berezowsky

-Associate Planners

-Assistant Planner/GIS

-Administrative Assistant

•Engineering Department - City Engineer John Stephenson

-Project Engineer

-Senior Field Inspector

-Building Inspector

-Permit Technician

-Office Clerk

-Field Inspector

•Public Works Department - Public Works Superintendent Bill Duffy

-Assistant Public Works Superintendent Dan Wilson

-Office Manager

-Utilities Foreman

-Services Foreman

-Office Clerk

New

•Mayor Donna Jean Bruce

•Planning and Land Services - Planning Director Barry Berezowsky

-Planning support staff

-Long Range or Comprehensive Planning

-Development Processing

-Building Code/Compliance

•Public Works - Acting Public Works Director John Stephenson

-Utilities, Planning, Engineering and Management Division - Supervisor Bill Duffy

*Water, Sewer, Storm and Solid Waste Operations and Maintenance

-Facilities, Grounds and Vehicle Management - Supervisor Dan Wilson

-Engineering Division

-Office Staff

•Contract Services

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Aug 29 edition online now. Browse the archives.