It's not about cost savings, it's about efficiency.
That, according to Morristown Business Administrator Michael Rogers, who outlined the reasons for and projected benefits of a consolidation of administrative positions, after the measure was approved at Tuesday night's council meeting.
The new department of code enforcement will consolidate the building and uniform construction code, health, property maintenance and inspections, rent leveling and zoning divisions. It also would dissolve the department of human services, shuffle recreation into the department of public works and create a senior services office in Rogers’ administration department.
Council members Allison Deeb and Raline Smith-Reid, who had voted against the proposal's introduction last month, again voted "no" on its adoption.
Deeb cited the expected hiring of a new code enforcement director, at an expected salary of about $75,000 to $100,000, as her primary reason for not supporting the ordinance.
"I cannot support an expansion of government," she said. "My opinion is that it expands the costs."
This prompted Mayor Tim Dougherty, who took office at the start of 2010, to reply. While there were more than 200 employees working for the town in 2009, there presently are just over 150, "at a cost savings of $7.5 million since 2010," he said. "It just goes on. When you're using the words 'expansion of government,' you're using it as a tool."
"This is not about cost savings," Rogers said on Wednesday. "This was a management and effiency study review. The council approved it unanimously. ... It wasn't about cost savings, it was about looking at processes, looking at current organization and how it's set up and how it functions internally.
"There are just issues that do happen everyday as a result of this org setup," the Business Administrator said. "Based on [consultant] findings ... it was agreed we need to change the structure here of our organization. Town council is the only one who can do that based on the town code."
Several years ago, Rogers said he began convening weekly meetings with department heads. "It's one of my responsibilities to look at organizations and try to improve its efficiency and effectiveness," he said. However, Rogers said such day-to-day operations responsibilities have been compromised since he has taken on the role of a defacto code enforcement director.
"There's really not going to be any change other than the improvement of delivery services and how we function internally," Rogers said. "They (the code enforcement director) could focus on their sole responsibility, not three department heads trying to deal with it."
Referring to Deeb's "expansion of government" comment, the business administrator said, "it's clearly not the way this administration has functioned.
"If hiring one person means making what we do better functioning, it's a small cost," Rogers said, noting candidate searches would begin within the next couple months.