Gilpin County News : Restructuring

Roger Baker, Gilpin County Manager.   It must have seemed to onlookers as though the entire agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Gilpin County Commissioners was given over to personnel matters, and that’s pretty close to accurate.

The various actions were all what might be categorized as “tweaks,” important to the individuals involved (either those already in the positions, or who might be hired into them) but not really representing a great change in the structure of County government or how to provide County services.

And to an extent they are all small-county problems; reflecting the fact that work (even government work) doesn’t always fall neatly into 40-hour-a-week increments, and that in small offices (which even the largest of our departments are, compared to those same departments in metro-area counties) it may be necessary to combine positions and refine job descriptions to make the most economical use of what are, after all, Gilpin County’s most valuable resources—its employees.

I’ve already written about the restructuring plan for our Extension Office, and that is driven both by the new part-time status of our Extension Agent, Dr. Irene Shonle, and the scaling-back of our Fair Coordinator, Vicki Nemec. The regional director of Extension services for Colorado State University attended a Commissioner meeting several weeks ago to discuss how this process might work.

Those changes, in turn, had impacts on the staff and scheduling at our Community Center, so our Recreation Services Manager, Kathi Lambert, had to take those into account in the restructuring proposal she has had before the Commissioners for several months. And more recent staff changes have already affected how Kathi planned to move ahead with that process.

Just last week I wrote about some of the changes coming to Human Services, motivated at least in part by the impending retirement of Director Betty Donovan. Some of those items were on Tuesday’s agenda, as well.

One thing I haven’t written about, though, is how these lengthy and complicated restructuring projects impact not just the departments in question, but also our administration staff.

For Human Resources Director Susie Allen and her staff, they all generate a lot of paperwork and take a lot of time. Proposals have to be crafted, draft job descriptions prepared, organizational charts revised.

And when the reorganization involves creation of a substantially new position, it’s usually necessary to have that position surveyed—compared to similar positions in both government and the private sector—to make sure that the pay range established is appropriate.

All these tasks coming at once add significantly to Susie’s work load, when she is already trying to stay abreast of the necessary insurance changes mandated by the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and a mandate from the Commissioners to begin exploring partial self-funding as a way of reining in the growth of health insurance premiums.

The proposed changes add to the burden of our Finance Director, Clorinda Smith, as well, and at the worst possible time. In September, Clorinda gets fully involved in the organization, calculation and presentation of the 2016 budget, on which the Commissioners will begin hearings in October.

Obviously staff hours and benefits are among the big budget items to be included, so not having a reasonably close number of how many positions there will be and how much those positions will be paid makes her chore even more difficult.

The point is that it isn’t business as usual, and hasn’t been for several years now; a lot of people are putting in a lot of time and effort to come up with solutions that will allow the County to provide better services to its citizens in a more cost-effective manner.

And that’s never easy.