New City Department Gets Attention, New Price-Tag Draws Scrutiny from Council

Though the Committee of the Whole on Budget has not yet made any recommendations that would affect the proposed staffing levels in the budget, several councilors, including councilors Fred Capone and Michael McLaughlin, indicated that they have not yet decided that the new Department of Organizational Assessment is necessary.

Mayor Carlo DeMaria created the Department earlier this year and had former School Department employee Dr. Omar Easy lead up the new venture. The idea was to look at how City departments are delivering services to residents and how they work internally at City Hall.

“This sounds like something that is overlapping with Human Resources and I am just wondering if maybe this is something that could be done with outside assessments from time to time, instead of creating a new department with employees and benefits,” stated Councilor Capone. “I am not so sure we need a new department at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars ($250,000) to do this.”

McLaughlin added, “I know that this is something the School Department has people doing,” and asked if other cities or towns have similar departments.

However, when Dr. Easy asked McLaughlin if he knew who in the School Department was performing the same functions as are proposed for his department, McLaughlin declined to answer and said he would take it up on Wednesday, presumably with Mayor DeMaria.

City Councilor Anthony DiPierro was the only councilor to speak in favor of the newly created position, pointing to Dr. Easy’s recent abilities to bridge the operational gap between the School and City administrations.

“That could save us from making $5 million mid-year budget transfers, and that alone makes it money well spent to me,” added DiPierro.

Chief of Staff Kevin O’Donnell also addressed the Council about the Organizational Assessment Department.

“I understand the concern that this seems like something that is overlapping with Human Resources,” said O’Donnell. “But, this City is evolving and we need help in identifying what the future needs of the City and City departments are going to be, to know how that is going to change.”

O’Donnell also noted that the City’s Human Resources department currently has a staff of just three people handling all City and School Department personnel and that their functions are not typically focused on how to plan future training and operational needs for all employees across the spectrum of City departments.

O’Donnell told the Councilors, “We are being proactive with this department, more experience and training will be needed and we need to make sure that every person in the organization, top to bottom, has the skill set needed to perform their jobs in a changing environment.”

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