Time to streamline

Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/26/2010 06:29:19 PM PDT

The elimination of 62 vacant positions and a reorganization of the land-use services department are among a slew of proposed changes that will be presented to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors today.

The proposed changes reflect a new quarterly budget reporting system for county departments, implemented on March 16. It is part of County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux’s push to streamline county operations and ensure more efficiency within the departments, county spokesman David Wert said.

It comes at a time when the county is experiencing its most dismal economic outlook in recent memory. The county’s unemployment rate was at 14.8 percent for March and ranked the second highest among U.S. metropolitan areas with a million or more people. The region lost 92,692 jobs in 2009 compared to 47,583 jobs in 2008, according to a staff report prepared for the board.

The third quarter budget adjustments proposed include the elimination of 62 positions that were vacated in the land-use services department last year as a result of a $6 million budget shortfall due to accounting errors and poor planning.

Wert said land-use services erred when it failed to make the appropriate budget adjustments to reflect the downturn in the housing market and construction industry, which led to its gaping budget hole.

“The reason the department got into trouble was the department kept people on board when there was no work for them to do and no money coming in to pay their salaries,” Wert said.

The positions the board is poised to eliminate today could return when the market rebounds, Wert said.

Other proposed budget adjustments include:

A reorganization of the land-use services department that will establish a new assistant administrator position and the reclassification of two deputy directors to building official and program manager.

An additional $11 million in general fund financing for land-use services due to the department’s budget shortfall last year.

In addition, a proposal will go before the board to increase the annual salary of the economic development agency director by 6 percent, from $159,916 to $169,511.

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