HAMMOND | Effective Jan. 1, the city will consolidate four departments into the Department of Public Works if the move is approved by the City Council.
Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr. made the announcement Friday on his weekly radio show on WJOB-AM.
The four departments to be consolidated into one larger department are streets, sanitation, parks and recycling, McDermott said.
Changes will reduce the middle management classification of employees.
“We’re going to save manpower for sure, especially in the middle management ranks. We’re going to create efficiencies,” he said during the broadcast. “That’s a nice way to say there’s not going to be as many bosses Jan. 1 as there are today.”
Current departmental employees will continue to do the kinds of jobs they do now, he said, “they’ll just work for a different department now – the Department of Public Works.”
For example, some Park Department employees currently just cut grass.
After Jan. 1, “they might not just be cutting grass,” McDermott said.
“On Monday, they might cut grass and on Tuesday, they may drive around and pick up garbage and on Wednesday, they may be painting lines on a street. On Thursday, because the Little Calumet River is getting high, they may be sandbagging the Little Cal River with all of our manpower,” the mayor said.
“It gives us options that we don’t have right now,” he said.
McDermott said he has “labor issues” and this consolidation will allow the city to eliminate many of the current restrictions of having employees perform crossover department work.
“We’re not planning on cutting the union workforce, the labor. Not one cut actually in that part,” he said. “But as far as how we supervise them, there’s going to be efficiencies created.”
The consolidation also will save money and help increase the city’s recycling efforts, McDermott said.
“Quite frankly, recycling is a whole separate animal, because Hammond doesn’t recycle as much as we should. Not even close,” he said.
“We’re one of the worst cities in Northwest Indiana when it comes to recycling per capita."
That lack of recycling is “a double penalty,” McDermott said.
“Think about it, if my neighbor doesn’t put their recycling out, not only do we not make money off of the recycling they put out — because we do, we make money off that — but we have to pay extra money because all that recyclables that should have gone to us so we could sell it, now has to go into the landfill, and we have to pay to landfill it,” he said in the broadcast.
“So we need to get better with our recycling, and that’s one of the things we’re trying to do with this new department. We’re going to change the way we do recycling in Hammond. There’s going to be more on that down the road,” McDermott said.
McDermott spent the remainder of Friday at a conference in Olympia Fields, his staff said.
Calls to City Controller Bobby Lendi about how many middle managers would be affected and information about what the city will save were not immediately returned.