12′ Wicomico Restructuring Program Still Muddy

SALISBURY- Months after Wicomico County officials embarked on a significant reorganization of the county’s government, there are still more questions than answers as the plan starts to take shape.

In the interest of cost-saving and efficiency, Wicomico County this summer undertook a major reorganization of the county’s government including the elimination of some positions, a change in duties for some others and a reconfiguring of several departments. The changes came in the wake of the county’s early retirement incentive plan, during which 44 Wicomico employees left their positions.

On Tuesday, Acting Director of Administration Sharon Morris outlined some of the details of the ongoing changes, including the transfer of some employees from one department to another and a change in salary for some employees taking on additional duties under their new job descriptions. In the end, Wicomico Council members were left more confused then when the process started.

“The thing to remember is, this is a work in progress and this reorganization is not specifically designed just for savings, but rather it is designed for improve efficiency. Every portion of this is not a cost savings. We still have a lot of employees getting paid $23,000 minus five furlough days.”

However, some on the council were confused by the reshuffling of pay scales for some employees.

“As I look at this, we’re paying some employees a couple of thousand less, yet one employee is getting $11,000 more just because he moved from one department to another,” said Councilman Bob Culver. “I’m still in the dark on this and it’s been four months now. When will we know what all of this is going to cost us next year.”

However, Morris explained the reorganization will likely save Wicomico significantly in the coming months despite the apparent confusion.

“In this part of the plan, there will be some savings,” she said. “What we anticipated returning to you the first year is $80,000 and I think we’ll still be able to do that the first year.”

Morris said the biggest challenge will be hiring someone to fill the Director of Administration position.

“We’re not going to be able to hire a person at the level we need without paying them at an appropriate level,” she said. “We need somebody with government experience, someone who understands how our government works and with experience with budgets. On top of that, it might just be a three-year job because that’s all that left of this term and there could be another change at the end of it.”