While it’s still unclear why two top-level Spokane Valley city staffers resigned in January, officials revealed a reorganization plan at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that will incorporate their former jobs into a new structure.
City Manager Mark Calhoun introduced the plan as a late agenda item in order to let council members get the information before it was reported in the media prior to the meeting.
“If we would have put this in our agenda packet it would have been reported in the media prior to having a discussion with council,” he said. “It was in no way intended to circumvent the public process.”
Calhoun said the new structure would add more mid-level management and not make the command structure as “top heavy” as in the past. The idea is to merge the existing community development and public works departments, which would reduce the staff level by the equivalent of a .65 full-time employee and save the city $200,000 in 2018.
“The hope is to have better coordination with city staff,” Calhoun said. “As an organization matures, silos tend to be built up…this is an effort to come up with a more coordinated group of people.”
Former Public Works Director Eric Guth and Senior Engineer and Capital Improvement Program Manager Steve Worley resigned in January. The circumstances surrounding their resignation have not been publicized, as the city’s policy is to not comment on personnel issues. Under the new structure, Guth’s position would not be filled and Worley’s would be rebranded city engineer, a designation that existed during the early days after Spokane Valley incorporation in 2003.
John Hohman, deputy city manager, also left a vacancy in his former post when he was promoted from the job of director of community and economic development department in January.
Under the new management structure, Hohman will now oversee the city’s engineering division (to be overseen by a yet-to-be determined engineer), economic development (to be managed by longtime employee Mike Basinger) and building (officiated by Doug Powell).
No layoffs are planned under the reorganization, Calhoun added.
The reorganization will require some language changes to the city code, said City Attorney Cary Driskell, and that issue will be brought before the council at the March 14 and 28 meetings. The new plan would then go into effect April 1.