Last week, the Lincoln Herald reported on the departure of Don Chamblee, who had been Lincoln County's Public Works Director, who took a similar job with the city of Rock Hill, SC. Chamblee started in his new position on Monday.
We mentioned in that article that numerous County departments were being reorganized. Two weeks ago, we asked County Manager Kelly Atkins to tell us about the restructuring. This is his reply:
"Over the past several years, I have spent time on what Lincoln County can do to enhance services provided by our employees and improve communication between departments. Last year (May 2020), I recommended the board [of County Commissioners] approve the consolidation of the Fire Marshal’s office, Emergency Management, and EMS. The change and consolidation of the emergency services departments has been very positive. Clearly, whenever change occurs, there will be an adjustment period; however, anytime we can improve services to citizens of Lincoln County, we should seriously consider those changes. The new name of all of these agencies is now Emergency Services. Ron Rombs is the director of Emergency Services.
"After realizing the success of our initial consolidation efforts, I shifted my focus to services related to development in Lincoln County.
"Beginning in December 2020, I began discussing the idea of consolidating Public Works and Planning/Inspections/TLC with the Board of Commissioners. After receiving their decision to move forward, I began meeting with the directors of these departments over a period of several months. The goal of any consolidation is to accomplish our goal of developing a concerted management of all of Development Services. I am confident the newly formed department will enhance collaboration on all development projects.
"One concern I have heard over the years is the departments do not talk to one another which often triggers confusion and unnecessary delays. After careful review of our existing departmental structure, as it relates to development services, I realized the needs of our county have changed; as a result, I explained that we must be willing to alter old methods of conducting business in order to achieve a higher standard of service and responsiveness.
"Organizational changes are needed from time to time if we are to accomplish the goal of furthering our ability to integrate within and with other agencies and streamline processes where possible. This consolidated structure is designed to increase accountability, streamline systems, improve regulatory processes, create a more evenly distribute workload, foster collaboration and strengthen our focus on area-based, cumulative management, and work towards a more proactive approach of becoming more customer responsive. The combination of these enhancements will go a long way of providing improved service to our residents and strengthen communication among employees.
"In the newly consolidated name of Development Services, Andrew Bryant will manage the following sub-departments: Public Utilities which includes Water, Sewer, and Solid Waste), Planning/Inspections, and Transportation Lincoln County. Josh Grant, currently assistant to the manager will be moved to oversee the division of Planning and Inspections. Mr. Grant will specifically focus on internal services within Planning and Inspections and Transportation Lincoln County (TLC) departments, day-to-day supervisory operations of the organization and special projects for the county. The new engineer (once hired) will be employed as the County Engineer. This role as county engineer is not limited to engineering; in fact, he/she will oversee public utility projects, and other duties as assigned. The engineer will assist Mr. Bryant with budget and in some cases personnel as directed. Additionally, in this implementation plan, Chris Henderson will continue functioning in his current role. He will oversee Water/Sewer operations/personnel. Solid Waste supervisor/manager, Mark Bivens will continue in his current capacity; however, he will work closely with the new director to maximize every opportunity to increase efficiencies wherever possible. Effective date for all changes August 23, 2021. All affected job descriptions have been updated.
"It is our commitment to provide the highest level of service to the citizens of Lincoln County. With the reorganization of Public Works, and Planning/Inspections, we can move forward in the coming years with confidence, knowing that we are providing our citizens with the best service in a unified approach of improving collaboration among staff, developers, contractors, and citizens alike. By moving forward with this reorganization Lincoln County will be eliminating redundancies which will provide more efficient service to our citizens. Lincoln County is fortunate to have talented employees that are willing to work together for the common good.
"Looking ahead, I believe there are other opportunities worth exploring that could further enhance communication, streamline processes, and improve services to the citizens of Lincoln County."