Bibb officials ask for $800,000 for Macon transition

mstucka@macon.comMarch 21, 2012 

Existing Bibb County department heads have asked for nearly $800,000 for another 14 staff members to deal with five departments moving over from Macon in July.

Chief Administrative Officer Steve Layson told commissioners Tuesday that he wants to see the amount of workload, then hire temporary or permanent workers to meet the need rather than fill all the positions and possibly have to issue layoffs.

But commissioners seemed to back Buildings and Properties Director Sam Kitchens, who told commissioners he could be asking for 14 employees but was requesting just six to deal with the additional workload. When the Macon departments transfer to the county on July 1, Kitchens said, he’ll be responsible for about 90 buildings that have full utility service, double the workload he faces today.

“Right now, it’s taking a heck of a lot more than six people,” said Kitchens, who indicated he could get by with the additional six people if he restructured his department and employees’ responsibilities. He said he couldn’t take on double the buildings with current staff.

“There’s no way we can do that,” he said.

Commissioners told Layson to look further into the employee requests and also see if some positions could be outsourced to private companies.

Kitchens said private companies might cost twice as much money to respond to emergencies, such as broken 3-inch water mains. Grant Faulkner, who has been running the county’s Information Technology Department, said no temporary help could do the work he’ll need done in maintaining computers.

Bibb County Commission Chairman Sam Hart said Layson needs to review the requests, which has not been done.

“There ought to be an analysis of what that department head brings back,” Hart said.

Roughly 140 positions are moving to the county as the city’s recreation portion of its parks and recreation department moves over, along with animal control, engineering, traffic engineering, and inspection and fees.

Commissioner Elmo Richardson, an engineer, said the county will need more staff in its existing departments to handle the new employees and a flood of projects funded by a special purpose local option sales tax. The county has been cutting staff for years, and some of the buildings the county will take over have been badly neglected.

“We’ve been kind of slimming down the number of employees,” Richardson said. “We’ve been doing a lot more with less people.”

Commissioners indicated they wouldn’t consider until budget time the requests for a deputy chief administrative officer working for the commissioners, and an assistant director for Lake Tobesofkee, because those departments weren’t connected to an original request for positions.

But the other 12 positions will be reviewed, including: an accountant and financial analyst for the finance office; a human resources specialist; two system engineers for the IT Department; a buyer for the Purchasing Department; and three maintenance technicians, a plumber, an electrician and an administrative assistant for buildings and properties. Those positions would cost about $650,000.

Commissioner Joe Allen, chairman of the county’s Human Resources Committee, said he expects that a review of the positions, workload and potential for outsourcing will be complete by early May.

But the county may not fill some positions until the Macon transfers have been completed and the actual need is seen.

“It’s going to cost the taxpayers of Bibb County a lot of money to bring these departments in,” he said.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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