Walker proposes restructuring county departments

County manager unveils grand plan

KINGMAN - Plans to reorganize the County Legal Defender's and Public Defender's offices have expanded to the entire county management system.

County Manager Ron Walker will describe his plan to reorganize county department to the Board of Supervisors during its meeting Monday morning.

Walker's plan will cut the number of directors and managers reporting directly to his office from 17 to four. According to Walker, this should save the county approximately $560,000 by eliminating seven positions.

Many of those positions have been unfilled since the county instituted a hiring freeze last year. Other employees will be moved into new positions. The change will add some responsibilities to some current department heads who will become deputy county managers. Some of those deputy county managers will see an increase in their salaries as well.

Despite the raises, the county will still see a $560,000 savings, according to Walker.

The reorganization can be done without laying off any county employees and without hiring new employees, he said.

The county attempted to consolidate departments several months ago when it reorganized the Planning and Zoning Department and the Building Department under the office of Developmental Services.

County Public Defender Dana Hlavac has also been working for several months on a plan with Legal Defender Ron Gilleo to consolidate the administration of indigent defense cases under one office, Indigent Legal Services.

That request has been met by opposition from other county contract attorneys and judges, who say such a consolidation could lead to a lawsuit if court records are not adequately separated and secured.

Walker's plan, if approved, will reorganize county departments into four management teams, each headed by a deputy county manager who will report directly to Walker.

The Planning and Zoning, Environmental Health, Emergency Management, Flood Control, Public Works and Economic Development departments will be consolidated into the Development Services Department.

Current County Public Works Director Mike Hendrix would lead the department as a deputy county manager. According to information provided to the Board, Walker expects to see a savings of $156,000 by not hiring a new Developmental Services director.

The Public Defender's and Legal Defender's offices will operate under the Criminal Justice Department with Hlavac serving as deputy county manager for the department. Hlavac will also act as a liason between the county administration and the courts.

In a news release, Walker stated that the county has received legal opinions and "all doubts expressed by individual judges and contract attorneys will be resolved."

"This reorganization will give us an ethical hand in better managing the costs of indigent defense," Walker states.

The County Finance, Information Technology, Human Resources and Procurement departments will be grouped into the Management Services Department. Current County Finance Director John Timko will become the deputy county manager for this department.

Community Services including One-Stop and Career Services, along with the Public Health Department and Public Fiduciary will be consolidated into the Health and Community Services Department. Current Community Services Director Suise Parel-Duranceau will become deputy county manager for the department.

The Clerk of the Board, Public Information, Office of Management and Budget, Elections, Risk Management and Library and Television districts will continue to be under the direct control of the County Manager's Office.

Elected offices such as the Treasurer's, Assessor's, Sheriff's and County Supervisor's offices are not included in the reorganization.

According to the county, the new organization will be similar to other chains of command used in Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Coconino counties.

"This proposal is part of our effort to permanently downsize while protecting those (mandated) services," Walker stated. "It will also streamline county operations and activities and promote public access and efficient, consistent services."

The Board will consider and possibly take action on the idea at its meeting at 9:30 a.m. Monday at the County Administration Building, 700 W. Beale Street.

The Board will also discuss finding a new home for county services in the Colorado City area, several Planning and Zoning requests and the reappointment of several people to different county committees and boards.