City department shuffle should save money, increase efficiency
December 28, 2006
Carson City is ringing in the new year with several services being reorganized to make it easier for builders and developers.
The focus of the newly formed Development Services Department is on land use, engineering and building permits – functions that were formerly part of the Public Works Department. Larry Werner is the new head of development services.
Werner also will continue as city engineer as he oversees this new combination of planning, building and safety, and the portion of engineering that does planning and development reviews, he said.
While the city is determining what the department’s long-term priorities should be, its overall mission will be to “improve the city’s responsiveness” toward builders and developers and “have a more coordinated response to permits and plan reviews,” Werner said.
Many development projects require a large number of employees with a variety of skills to review and assess the plans. Sometimes their conclusions are different. Part of Werner’s responsibility will be to help find common ground and “make sure everyone has talked,” before reports and findings are completed, he said.
Public Works now is responsible for engineering, traffic, streets, storm drainage, parking enforcement, landfill, water and sewer utilities, vehicle maintenance, and regional transportation duties. Andrew Burnham will continue to be that department’s director. Werner used to report to Burnham.
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Though cities organize public works functions in a variety of ways, Carson City has grown and “public works was too large,” Werner said.
He’ll also provide city employees and people seeking these services a single point of contact. The workers doing the research were already doing good work. He said, getting final approvals on plans was difficult because so many things were going on so separation should make obtaining city decisions faster.
“We can encourage more development if we can help things work better,” he said.
Werner received his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno. He was Carson City’s public works director during the early 1980s but went on to work for Douglas County, the state and private sector – he and Burnham worked together at an engineering firm during the 1990s. He returned to the city in 2000.
He is married with two grown sons and expects to become a grandfather for the first time next month. He’s also a fifth-generation Nevadan.
City Manager Linda Ritter said the reorganization, in the works since late September, will save $232,000, with $105,000 of that saving from the general fund budget. The shift results in three unfilled jobs no longer being necessary: an environmental control supervisor, senior engineering technician and deputy public works manager.
“We’re trying to address service need but also looking for budget reductions,” she said. “Anything we can do to make our services better and puts us in a more competitive position.”
This review of city operations to cut costs came about because forecasts indicate tax revenues will be lower than expected. The city could face a shortfall of $4.5 million to spend during the next 18 months.
To learn more about the city’s Development Services Department or ask questions about building and development, call 887-2310 or visit the department office at 2621 Northgate Lane, Suite 6.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at email@example.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.