City Operations

City Operations

City Operations

The City Operations Workgroup was tasked with considering and making recommendations on general city functions, including administration, planning and permitting, codes, general assistance, economic and community development, library, legal, financial administration, accounting, tax collection, clerk, tax assessing, human resources and information technology. Additionally, the workgroup inventoried and reviewed the boards, commissions and committees currently in place in the two cities and evaluated the impact consolidation would have on them, if any.

To structure its consideration of options in these service areas, the workgroup generally adhered to the options analysis framework summarized above. For each of the service areas considered, this section therefore presents the “merged baseline” and all reviewed options.

Administrator

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one administrator and downgrade the second administrator to a line-staff position. (Savings of $68,600)

Model 2

Retain one administrator and eliminate the second administrator, thereby reducing the staff complement by one full-time equivalent position. (Savings of $138,600)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also downgrade one of the deputy administrators to a line-staff position. (Savings of $190,400)

Model 4

Start with Model 2, and also eliminate one of the deputy administrators and one of the clerical support positions. The resulting department would have 1 administrator, 1 deputy, 2 professional staff and 1 administrative assistant. (Savings of $319,400)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 4

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both city administrator / manager offices, the workgroup requested that model 4 be developed. After further discussion, the workgroup endorsed model 4.


 

Planning, Permitting and Codes

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one director and downgrade one of the two deputy directors to a planner position. (Savings of $25,600)

Model 1a

Retain the current administrative assistant capacity but eliminate a duplicate deputy director. (Savings of $109,600)

Model 1b

Start with Model 1a, but add two full-time equivalent city planners to the department – one at a senior planner level and one at a mid-level planner. (Cost of $58,300)

Model 1c

Start with Model 1a, but add one full-time equivalent city planner to the department – at a senior planner level. (Savings of $18,600)

Model 2

Start with Model 1, but eliminate (rather than downgrade) one of the two deputy directors and one administrative assistant. (Savings of $161,000)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also eliminate one planner. (Savings of $245,000)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 1c

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both planning departments, the workgroup requested developed the hybrid models. There was consensus among the workgroup that the cities’ current level of planning capacity was too low, and that a combined city department offered an opportunity to reinvest some of the efficiency savings into increased capacity. The workgroup therefore ruled out model 3 because it would further reduce planning staff capacity. As part of this review, the workgroup did a cursory benchmark of Lewiston and Auburn’s planner staffing levels to select peers. After discussion, the workgroup endorsed model 1c.

Social Services and General Assistance

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one director and downgrade the second director to a line-staff position. (Savings of $30,800)

Model 2

Retain one director and eliminate the second director, thereby reducing the staff complement by one full-time equivalent position. (Savings of $78,000)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also eliminate one part-time caseworker position. (Savings of $103,200)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 2

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both cities’ general assistance departments, the workgroup endorsed model 2.

 


 

Economic and Community Development

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one director and downgrade the second economic development director and the community development director to line-staff positions. (Savings of $71,200)

Model 1a

Start with Model 1 and downgrade one of the duplicate directors but repurpose the other to the role Downtown Development Director / Coordinator to increase the department’s capacity to focus on downtown-specific economic development efforts. (Savings of $43,200)

Model 1b

This is a hybrid model that yields a department with one director, one deputy director for economic development, one deputy director for community development, one downtown development director and all other current positions. (Cost of $23,300)

Model 2

Retain one director and eliminate the second economic development director and the community development director, thereby reducing the staff complement by two fill-time equivalent positions. (Savings of $197,200)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 1b

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1 and 2. After consideration of the current operations of both economic / community development departments, the workgroup requested that models 1a and 1b be developed. After further discussion, the workgroup endorsed model 1b.

 


 

Library

The workgroup’s review of library services focused on the two different models currently in place in the cities. In Lewiston, the library is a department of the city, with 18 full-time equivalent employees (and a total of 38 staff); in Auburn, the library is an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Although both libraries receive substantial funding from their respective city, Lewiston’s employees are city employees while Auburn’s are employees of the not-for-profit organization.

Workgroup Recommendation

Upon review, the workgroup concluded and endorsed the following in the event of consolidation:

·       Both library facilities should remain open in their current form;

·       The combination of library systems would enable the reduction of one library director position (Savings of $120,000);

·       No other anticipated staffing adjustments; and

·       Expanding the 501c3 model to cover both libraries (i.e. converting Lewiston’s library from a city department to an independent not-for-profit organization) would eliminate any impact of long-term liabilities for post-retirement employee benefits that would otherwise exist on the city’s financial statements, while still permitting the current level of services to continue.

Legal

Neither city currently has a city attorney on staff. Rather, both fund this function as a contracted professional service. In reviewing the actual / budgeted expenditures for this function over the past several years, the workgroup found that the combined cost to the two cities is typically in the $150,000 / year range. The workgroup concluded that creating an in-house city legal department and staffing it with city attorneys would likely cost more than the current approach.

Workgroup Recommendation

The workgroup recommended no change to the current contractual approach to this service. While acknowledging that legal services for one municipality would probably be less than for two, the workgroup conservatively estimated no immediate savings. (No cost impact)


 

Finance and Administration (New Combined Department)

The City Operations Workgroup recommends a consolidated Finance and Administration Department that spans several functions, in order to create new synergies.The City Operations initially began reviewing a series of “back office” administrative departments separately. These offices included finance, accounting, tax collection, clerk, tax assessing, human resources and information technology. During the course of its review, the workgroup determined that the functions had certain staffing and structural synergies that, if viewed together rather than separately, had the potential to offer additional efficiencies. The resulting workgroup recommendation was to create a consolidated department spanning all of these functions, capitalizing on synergies among them and opportunities to more efficiently utilize support and clerical personnel.

To more accurately capture the breadth of responsibilities for the new department, the workgroup recommended branding it as the “Department of Finance and Administration.” Department administration would include a Director of Finance and Administration and a Deputy Director, with the following division heads overseeing each included service: Chief Accountant, Tax Collector, City Clerk, Chief Assessor, Human Resources Administrator and Chief Technology Officer. The department would also include a Budget Director. To account for the additional responsibilities that would be borne by the Director of Finance and Operations, a salary increase of 15% from the current Chief Financial Officer role is included in the financial calculations.

A model organizational chart is presented below to demonstrate the envisioned structure. The remainder of this section presents the division-by-division breakdown of the workgroup’s staffing level recommendations and changes (where applicable), along with the associated cost impact estimates.

Administration Division

Financial administration would serve as the core of the newly consolidated department. The workgroup recommends a Director of Finance and Operations, a Deputy Director, a Director of Budget and Purchasing and a Facilities Manager / Purchasing Assistant. This would represent no net change from the current financial administration staffing levels in the two cities. (Cost of $21,600)

Accounting Division

The workgroup recommends retaining the current staffing complement. The workgroup also recommends that the staff accountant titles be stratified to create a “senior” accountant position in order to improve growth opportunities for personnel in the department. (No cost impact)

Tax Collection Division

The workgroup recommends retaining the current staffing complement, but downgrading one of the two tax collector positions to a tax account clerk-level title (to retain current staff capacity but leverage the efficiency of needing only a single division head). The workgroup also recommends that the tax account clerk titles be stratified to create a “senior” account clerk in order to improve growth opportunities for personnel in the department. (Savings of $24,100)

Information Technology Division

The workgroup recommends retaining the current FTE complement and staffing structure. (No cost impact)


 

City Clerk Division

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one city clerk and downgrade the second city clerk to a line-staff position. (Savings of $44,700)

Model 1a

Start with Model 1 and downgrade one city clerk position and one deputy clerk position to line-staff roles, such that the current staff capacity / FTE complement is retained. (Savings of $54,000)

Model 2

Retain one city clerk and eliminate the second city clerk, thereby reducing the staff complement by one full-time equivalent position. (Savings of $89,500)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also downgrade one deputy clerk position to a line-staff position. (Savings of $98,800)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 1a

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both city clerks’ offices, the workgroup requested the development of model 1a, which it ultimately endorsed.


 

Tax Assessing Division

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one chief assessor and downgrade the second chief assessor to a line-staff position. (Savings of $25,900)

Model 1a

Start with Model 1, and also eliminate one clerical position such that the overall staff capacity / FTE complement is reduced by one but the assessing staff capacity is retained in full. (Savings of $66,100)

Model 2

Retain one chief assessor and eliminate the second chief assessor, thereby reducing the staff complement by one full-time equivalent position. (Savings of $109,200)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also downgrade one deputy to a line-staff position. (Savings of $122,000)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 1a

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both tax assessing offices, the workgroup requested the development of model 1a, which it ultimately endorsed.


 

Human Resources Division

Merged Baseline

Retain all personnel in their current titles, keeping the current staff complement and workforce capacity intact. (No cost impact)

Model 1

Retain one HR director and downgrade the second director to a line-staff position. (Savings of $10,000)

Model 2

Retain one HR director and eliminate the second director, thereby reducing the staff complement by one full-time equivalent position. (Savings of $80,200)

Model 3

Start with Model 2, and also reduce the FTE load of support staff by 0.5 position. (Savings of $111,300)

Workgroup Recommendation: Model 2

CGR’s study team initially produced the merged baseline and models 1, 2 and 3. After consideration of the current operations of both human resources departments, the workgroup endorsed model 2.

A Note on Facilities

As noted above, the workgroup concluded that a consolidated Department of Finance and Operations had the potential to leverage more synergies than if its component parts continued to operate as separate departments in a consolidated city. However, the ability of a combined Department of Finance and Operations to realize those efficiencies is predicated largely on space considerations. In the event of consolidation, the optimal arrangement would be to find a way of co-locating all divisions at the same site. This would provide opportunities to cross-train and share staff, particularly clerical support personnel. To the extent divisions are physically separated from one another, it will make the realization of certain efficiencies more challenging.


 

Boards and Committees

As part of its review, the workgroup examined the intent and status of a series of boards, committees and commissions established by one or both cities in order to make a recommendation as to their status in the event of consolidation. The basis for the list was an inventory produced by the Auburn Mayor early in the review process. A preliminary review of each board, committee and commission was included in the appendix to the May 2016 Baseline Services and Financial Overview report, which readers are encouraged to consult for additional information on how the workload of each would be impacted by merger. The workgroup’s recommendations / conclusions are as follows.

It should also be noted that any “mutual aid” agreements currently in place between the cities (e.g. police, fire) would cease to exist as of the effective date of consolidation. This is because the basis for mutual aid – i.e. separate municipalities supporting each other on an emergency basis – would be gone. The new city could, of course, enter into mutual aid agreements with other municipal neighbors.

Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council

This is currently an organization that represents both cities on economic development issues and which staffs the private development corporations of each city. The workgroup concluded that in the event of consolidation, LAEGC would still be needed to bring private sector expertise and guidance to economic development efforts. It should be noted that as of July 1, 2016, the Auburn City Council opted to cease its funding share of the Growth Council.

Audit Committee

This is addressed by the draft charter.

Board of Assessment Review

Consolidate into a single board.

Cable TV Advisory Committee

This is currently a joint committee of the two cities. In the event of merger this would continue unchanged. The workgroup concludes that there is an opportunity for consolidation to yield program improvement and / or expansion.

Community Development Block Grant Citizen Advisory Committee

Consolidate into a single committee, though a determination would be required on the appropriate size. Currently Auburn’s committee is larger than Lewiston’s.

Community Development Block Grant Loan Committee

Consolidate into a single committee.

Zoning Board of Appeals

Consolidate into a single board.

Planning Board

Consolidate into a single board.

Joint Council Committee

Eliminate, since the need for a joint committee would be obviated in the event of consolidation.

Lewiston Auburn Transit Committee

The operations of buses could become part of a city department, likely either public works or social services. There probably would still be a need for a citizen committee to provide advice and feedback on routes and service, though that would be the prerogative of the new government.

Joint Budget Committee

Eliminate, since the need for a joint committee would be obviated in the event of consolidation.

Firearms and Discharge Committee

If a consolidated city opted to retain this committee, the workgroup recommends its function be rolled into the Planning Board.

Solid Waste and Recycling Committee

This is currently an Auburn-only committee (Lewiston has a Public Works Committee). The workgroup recommends a single committee be created in the event of consolidation.

Community Forestry Board

This is currently a joint committee, and should be retained in the event of consolidation.

Other Ad Hoc Committees

Over the years, both cities have established ad hoc committees to address specific issues from time to time. A consolidated city would have the same prerogative. Examples include Lewiston’s Committee to Review Public Works Service Level Standards, and Immigrant and Refugee Integration and Policy Development Working Group, and Auburn’s Mount Apatite Joint Land Use Committee and New Auburn Land Use Committee.

Summary of City Operations Savings / (Costs)

Based on workgroup recommendations:

Administrator

$319,400

Planning, Permitting and Codes

$18,600

Social Services and General Assistance

$78,000

Economic and Community Development

($23,300)

Library

$120,000

Finance and Administration

($21,600)

   Accounting

-

   Tax Collection

$24,100

   City Clerk

$54,000

   Assessing

$66,100

   Human Resources

$80,200

   Information Technology

-

 

Annual Recurring Savings

 

$715,500

 

Advantages of Unification and Scale

Beyond the specific financial savings identified above, the workgroups noted other clear benefits of merging city operations.

Freeing up finite resources: Today there are two legislative bodies, two city administrations, two finance departments, and so on. Each requires a minimum investment of finite resources. One government entity frees up resources that can be redeployed elsewhere.

Professional opportunity: Larger departments of a larger city offer more growth opportunities for employees and function specialization for the city.