Manatee administrator announces reorganization of county government

MANATEE -- Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker announced a reorganization of county government that consolidates four departments into two and eliminates three positions -- including that of "organizational development manager," held by David Klement.

The planning and building departments will be merged into a new Building and Development Services Department that will be "one-stop center to serve and assist the business community" in one central location, a news release states.

In other consolidations, Hunzeker said the Agriculture and Resource Conservation Department will become the Agriculture and Extension division within the Community Services Department.

And Manatee County Area Transit will move under the Public Works Department since they are both located at 1022 26th Ave. E., according to a news release.

Hunzeker said the changes -- including the layoffs of Klement and two other employees -- were designed to minimize further layoffs while addressing an expected dropoff in property taxes this year of $12 million to $14 million.

“This is an organizational change in anticipation of upcoming budget decisions that will have to be made,” Hunzeker said. “There’s not a day that goes by when we are not trying to downsize this government. We’re going to ask staff across the organization to continue to do more with less.”

The new Building and Development Services Department, under the direction of John Barnott, will incorporate the Transportation Systems Management division now in Public Works responsible for the analysis and development of the county's thoroughfare roadway system, a news release states.

The new department will also take over the county’s code enforcement division previously under the Neighborhood Services Department, according to a news release.

Other positions eliminated are transportation system model and data engineer supervisor and planning technician I. One position was vacant, and the other employee is being transferred to another job.

Klement is the only employee to lose his job.

Klement's hiring last year had sparked opposition from County Commission Joe McClash and others in the community. Klement is a former editorial page editor for the Bradenton Herald.

"The departmental consolidation, along with the recent two-year extension of impact fee reductions, frees up long range planning and transportation officials to concentrate on the 'How Will We Grow' project which is mapping a course for Manatee County’s future for generations to come," the news release states. "With more resources focused on 'How Will We Grow, the organizational development manager’s position is eliminated."

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