MANATEE -- The merger of two departments has set off a round of musical chairs affecting about 80 Manatee County employees.
Last month, County Administrator Ed Hunzeker laid off five people and announced that the Natural Resources Department would merge with the Parks and Recreation Department, for an annual savings of about $250,000.
Over the past few weeks, workers have been moving to accommodate the merger.
About 24 Natural Resources employees have moved, many to quarters of the former Parks Department at the G.T. Bray Administration Building, 5502 33rd Ave. Drive W., according to Charlie Bishop, director of the Property Management Department.
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Another three moved from the Parks Department to the Property Management staff, Bishop said. His staff will take over the maintenance previously done by the former Parks Department, officials have said.
Still to come is a move by the property appraiser's office, at 915 Fourth Ave. W., into quarters next door va
cated by the former Department of Natural Resources, according to Manatee County Property Appraiser Charles Hackney.
"Our plan is to move our IT department into that space, and shift everybody around, put real estate appraisers and deed specialists into that space," said Hackney earlier this week.
His 53 employees are "really squished" in their current quarters, he said.
Bishop expects the building that housed the Department of Natural Resources' environmental protection division to be vacated as part of the merger.
"By shutting down the building at 202 Sixth Ave E., we will save an estimate of $30,000 a year in utilities and maintenance cost," Bishop said.
The new Parks and Natural Resources Department is led by long-time Natural Resources Director Charlie Hunsicker.
The moves did not require a commercial moving company, he said.
Employees moved some of their own items, and inmate labor and other offenders helped move the rest.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.