The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

City Hall reorganization quietly continues; IT department cuts many positions, adds others, ends up with more

In City Hall, Kris Gulick on May 18, 2008 at 4:02 pm

It was a year ago that the city manager and the City Council reorganized much of city government, sending several long-time managers packing. Those included the streets director, parks director, water utility director, forestry director, a couple managers in the development office, the director of Ushers Ferry Historic Village.

Last week, Bill Carr, the city’s new chief information officer, explained to the City Council what he is doing to overhaul the city’s information technology operation.

Carr didn’t have great things to say about the arrangement he inherited.

He said the city’s information technology operation had a lot of people spread out in a lot of different locations, with few specialists and a lot of staffers who he called “a jack of all trades, a master of none.”

He said the city needed fewer managers, more specialists and more programmers who could write computer programs so the city doesn’t have to buy as many.

Beyond that, the city needed a computer operation that is secure, Carr said.

Real people are losing IT jobs because they don’t have the skills or specialization to fill the newly created ones. Some of those losing jobs may be able to move into other city jobs. However, the City Council last week voted to continue a severance package program it created a year ago for those leaving city employment.

Conni Huber, the city’s human resources director, reports that the city now has 26 IT positions, including a director and 10 managers.

The new arrangement will have Carr, five managers and a total of 30 positions. The new slots include three programmers, three specialists in GIS (geographic information system), two specialists in Web development and a specialist in information security.

In total, the new staffing setup will add $196,290 to IT costs, money Huber says will be covered by renegotiating contracts with current IT service providers.

Carr told the City Council he intended to centralize the city’s IT staff in one place at the city’s Public Works building, 1201 Sixth St. SW.

Council member Kris Gulick said the IT reorganization fits into the City Council mission of creating a more efficient, effective government that delivers better services.

City Manager Jim Prosser said the City Council had given him direction to invest in more capital equipment, which he said included computer systems.

That equipment “needs people to run it,” Prosser said.

As one example, the new equipment and expertise will allow in-the-field computer reporting by police officers and city inspectors, Carr said.

Of note: It wasn’t the greatest of weeks for husband and wife, Steve and Marita O’Konek. Steve O’Konek, a captain at the Police Department, was a finalist to become police chief, but didn’t get the job. Marita O’Konek, also at the Police Department, is one of the city employees whose IT position has been eliminated, Huber acknowledged.

Last week, the City Council also eliminated the position of classification and compensation manager in Huber’s department, a position held by longtime city employee Gloria McMahan, Huber noted.

 

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