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Mayor Morse’s FY17 Budget Reflects Department Reorganization to Streamline Government, Enhance Services for Residents Text Size

Earlier this month Mayor Alex B. Morse released his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17), reflecting leaner operations through shared administrative positions, work realignment or eliminating positions through attrition.

“I was pleased to submit a fully balanced budget that addressed the city’s structural deficit, something that’s rarely been seen throughout the last few decades. Making management adjustments was part of that process, as well as a needed step in order to ensure City government is looking at the most effective way to complete the work and deliver the services our residents and business community expect,” indicated Mayor Alex Morse.

The lion’s share of the realignments are directly related to the Office of Planning & Economic Development (OPED), and involves 10 Departments and Boards, including:

  • License Board: OPED is absorbing the staffing responsibilities related to the License Board, formerly administered under the Board of Health. OPED is tasked with helping the board improve their licensing review and granting process, which represents a substantial volume of permits in the City, by creating more predictable and transparent criteria as well as administering its workflow. To accomplish this mission OPED will dedicate part of one Planner’s time to review submittals and improve workflow and has absorbed the former License Clerk position.
  • Conservation & Sustainability: The Conservation Department has been given additional responsibilities with regards to energy and sustainability projects, formerly under OPED, while they work closer together on executing those projects. OPED will share a clerk position with the renamed Office of Conservation & Sustainability to take on the administrative duties of the office, freeing valuable time from the Director’s day to be placed towards project management hours that are being used in the pursuit of grants and implementation of priority initiatives.
  • Creative Economy and Cultural Production: As the Creative Economy Industries Coordinator (CEIC) position authorization sunsets at the end of FY16, the City’s entrepreneurship, public art and other creative infrastructure workload will be absorbed by current OPED staff. Additionally, the office will continue to support creatives and entrepreneurs through its ARTery partnership with the Creative Arts Center, SPARK and through individual projects that strengthen the local cluster. Cultural programming will be the focus of Wistariahurst, which under the new leadership of Kate Preissler has effectively started expanding on its mission to provide and support quality cultural events beyond its four walls. Collaboration among OPED and Wistariahurst has already begun to facilitate innovation in programming in advancement of the mission for both economic development and cultural production.

 

“It’s important to recognize and celebrate how this position put us down a path for continued success through its work over the past three and a half years: it’s clearly embedded its ‘DNA’ into many City functions to make us more entrepreneurial from inside government and created a critical mass of creative industries support in the community.” said Mayor Morse. “We’re forever thankful to Jeff for his accomplishments as part of the team and look forward to working with him as a partner from the private sector.”

Marcos A. Marrero, Director of Planning & Economic Development added that “whether it was jump starting economic activity, evaluating re-use for vacant spaces or pushing for small business support, the work of Jeff Bianchine as the CEIC always found a way to scale up for broader application. That leaves a strong legacy and foundation for the revitalization of Holyoke going forward and we’re so grateful for his hard work.” 

 

  • Historic Commission: OPED would staff the Historic Commission, which has had no staffing since around 2003, as an expansion of its current Historic Planning project and attempt to leverage resources for Historic Preservation and rehabilitation of buildings.
  • Mass in Motion: OPED will also be responsible for the Mass in Motion program, which aligns with the many planning efforts intending to, among other things, create a more walkable and bikeable urban environment through quality public infrastructure and placemaking throughout the City’s neighborhoods.
  • HEDIC: The proposed budget increases the City’s share of OPED’s funding, which has for over two decades placed an ever increasing financial responsibility on the Holyoke Economic Development and Industrial Corporation (HEDIC) to cover employee salaries. This practice has driven a recurring deficit to that body and has hindered its ability to invest in economic development projects. The City’s share of office funding is planned on being phased in over the next three years to erase the HEDIC deficit without being overly cumbersome on City finances.
  • Tax Collector and Treasurer: These departments have merged physically in order to produce a better work flow between their offices and allow for cross-training of employees.  New technology has also been introduced that will cut costs due to the reduction of staff, and provide better constituent services.
  • Board of Health and Building Department: These Departments are becoming more closely aligned to better address the inspection of problem properties.  The team approach includes funding two inspectors, using Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, who will work primarily on enhancing code enforcement and receivership programs. The departments will also share one administrative clerk and are setting up an in-house property preservation and demolition team to address blighted buildings at lower cost.

 

“Making these adjustments have been essential in balancing our current budget, but equally important in making sure we remain responsive and nimble to the many responsibilities our City government is charged with tackling” concluded Mayor Morse.

 


Posted on May 26, 2016 by