East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland has announced the reorganization of the city’s public works operations, affecting East Chicago streets, parks, solid waste and utilities operations.
The reorganization, which will be implemented in early 2013, calls for the merger of the Streets and Solid Waste departments, along with a transfer of park maintenance and field operations into one cohesive unit.
It also calls for the merger of storm water collection operations with sewer collection operations.
Further, it collapses 26 different union classifications into 8 new positions, allowing for improved flexibility, and eliminates a number of “lead” positions.
The reorganization eliminates the present “silo-approach” to organization, where each department has its own supervisors and managers, replacing it with a “flat” organization where employees report to a supervisor and foreman who manage all needs and operations in one of three zones.
“Presently, we can have supervisors from up to three departments overseeing the work at one job site," Copeland said. "The present organizational approach is not acceptable. We are adopting the same methodology that has been embraced by the private sector over the last 20 years. The new plan is clearly a more efficient approach that eliminates duplication.”
The plan centralizes purchasing and inventory operations within public works to achieve maximum savings, and establishes a job reporting system to track response times and project completion.
Current management staff will be interviewed by the Human Resources Department to determine which individuals possess the strongest abilities to fill leadership positions in the new structure. Depending on the outcome of those interviews, outside candidates may be considered.
“We cannot continue to improve the services we provide if we are hamstrung by an antiquated organizational structure," Copeland said. "The reorganization is a paradigm shift in the way our public works operations are organized. It greatly enhances our ability to respond to the needs of our citizens.
"Furthermore, the plan is part of the overall effort we have undertaken to reduce our budget and live within our means.” In the past year, city officials have introduced efforts to reduce the city’s budget by more than $4.8 million and bring about significant improvements in efficiency and operations.