Port Angeles council OKs department changes to save money

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Public Works and Utilities Department has been reorganized to consolidate core functions under key managers and promises to achieve a $72,800 annual cost savings.

The City Council approved the change by unanimous vote on its consent agenda with eight other items last week.

The restructuring will result in a $18,700 savings for the general fund/street division and a $54,100 savings for the utilities division, according to a council memorandum.

“I think it’s definitely a positive step, not only for operations but for public works as a whole,” Public Works Director James Burke told the council at its Feb. 5 meeting.

“It definitely flattens out the org [organizational] chart, and helps basically streamline a lot of the activities that take place between operations and engineering.”

The department is adding new positions for deputy director of transportation and deputy director of water and wastewater, both of which will report to Burke.

A part-time administrative assistant position is being changed to full time.

The unfilled deputy director of public works operations and water/wastewater field superintendent positions are being eliminated.

“I think it really is a good news story for council,” City Manager Nathan West said at the meeting.

“This is a restructuring change that I think will greatly help the effectiveness of the management in that operation.

“I’m really excited to be bringing that forward, but also bringing it forward with ultimately long-term savings and the elimination of some positions as well as the creation of new positions,” West added.

In a memo to the council, Burke said the reorganization will “more evenly distribute work duties, correct management span of control, provide better oversight of work units, support the need to establish cross-functional teams to respond to customer needs, address the city’s growing transportation and mobility needs and improve customer service.”

West said the salary structure for management and non-represented staff affected by the reorganization would be formally adopted after union negotiations are finished.

“I think it’s important to mention, too, that this is the first of multiple steps to make some changes and make some improvements so that we can better serve the community within the public works department,” West said.

Mayor Sissi Bruch suggested that engineering and planning be consolidated within the Public Works and Utilities Department.

“I believe planning needs to be more involved in a lot of areas,” Bruch added.

City Council member Cherie Kidd described the reorganization as “very important” and “long overdue.”

“It’s very much needed, and I’m delighted to see this,” Kidd said.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

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