Debate over what planning position to cut continues
December 13, 2011
Although the Summit County Council has the final say on the 2012 budget, Community Development Director Don Sargent is wondering why he was not consulted before a position in his department was placed on the chopping block.
Sargent said that when he was told to create his 2012 budget with one less position, he carefully examined which position could be cut without service levels being impacted. His suggestion was to eliminate a planning technician position, someone who reviews building plans, checks setback requirements and can review low impact permits.
"I strongly recommended this position be cut if we have to make that choice," Sargent said. "We could still keep our service levels and not disrupt our work service flow if it was eliminated."
At the County Council’s budget meeting last week, member Dave Ure said he is recommending that a planner be cut instead.
"The technician is cross-trained which is a valuable asset when you are at the minimal amount of employees," Ure said. "The planning technician can work as a building inspector and we do not have enough of those. When we have such a small amount of building going on, we should not be making people wait up to four days for a building inspector."
Sargent said he understands Ure’s point of view, but does not know why he was not consulted prior to Ure making the recommendation to the Council since he knows which positions his department can do without.
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"I know that from the outside, it appears we have several planners that have been employed for a long time and not faced layoffs. But this is because of citizen demand," Sargent said. "Residents of Summit County want long-range planning efforts done to orchestrate future developments in the area and this has engulfed a large portion of the planning department’s time. On top of that, they have to work on development agreements that are coming down the pipeline."
The County Council is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 14 to decide on the final 2012 budget. Ure said he expects numerous members of the building community to show up and ask the Council to keep the Planning Technician in order to help them maintain their businesses.