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Thursday, December 1, 2022
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County restructuring of departments

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by LISA MACNEIL
HERNANDO SUN REPORTER

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At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting held on June 26, 2019,  the board voted 5-0 to approve a revised organization chart prepared by County Administrator Jeff Rogers to represent and guide restructuring of county departments.  Rogers’ goal for the restructuring is to reduce the number of departments that report directly to him.

Rogers reported that his top goals as County Administrator is the handling of contracts and purchasing , employee morale and community involvement.

The Deputy County Administrator (DCA) position is still open, and once that position is filled, the Building Department, Department of Public Works, Planning Department, Public Safety, Utilities and Community Services will report to the DCA.
Community Services is a new department being created to oversee Animal Services (formerly reporting to Public Safety), County Extension, Library Services, Parks and Recreation and Veterans Services.

The Office of Emergency Management will now report to Public Safety.

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Commissioner Steve Champion stated that he is not in favor or hiring another person for a leadership position for financial reasons.  Mentioning at the time the pending budget workshop which was held after the BOCC meeting on this day, Champion said, “I don’t think we can afford any new positions.  We’ve been dicing up the budget already.”   Champion suggested the possibility of promoting an existing department head instead.

Rogers said that there would be a cost savings to the general fund as a result of the entire reorganization.  The expected general fund expenditure would be $37,183, shedding,  $207,749 of expenses that would now be assigned to other departments.  The salary of the incoming DCA would be split between the funds of Hernando County Fire / Rescue (HCFR) , Department of Public Works (DPW), Utilities and the Building department. 

Commissioner John Allocco also expressed concern about hiring a new individual for the Community Services Department, however cautioned about changing the title of a promoted employee,  since a director-level office should be a full-time position.  BOCC Chairman Jeff Holcomb agrees with Allocco’s position, however thinks the position should provide direction for the departments, which would require an individual with a wide range of ability.

CJM commended Rogers for reducing the number of his direct reports, however, had concerns about the legality of assembling the DCA’s salary from four different funds.  County Attorney Garth Coller did not have an answer readily available, and will investigate.  

Rogers added,  “This isn’t just about cutting expenses this year, the biggest question is about changing the mindset of government about controlling growth going forward.”

Also needing a leader is the newly planned Department of Economic Development, which will oversee the Office of Business Development, Tourist Development and Airport Operations.  Rogers told the board that he suggests moving Business Development Manager Valerie Pianta into that role.

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