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SLO County eliminates its General Service Agency, breaks it into four departments 

Considering the many administrative layers involved in running a county, more is not always merrier. At least, that’s been the case for the county’s General Services Agency.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors gave the go ahead on Oct. 7 for the reorganization of the many parts of what was formerly known as the General Services Agency. The agency oversaw several operations: industrial technology, airport services, parks and recreation, and general services (real property, facility maintenance and custodial, capital projects, etc.). The four service areas, which were formally under the agency’s umbrella, will be split into four departments, each spearheaded by a director who will report to County Administrator Dan Buckshi.

The reorganization’s approval comes two months after the termination of General Services Director Janette Pell. In August, Buckshi told New Times that Pell’s position, which oversaw the larger umbrella department and reported to Buckshi, was eliminated in preparation for the reorganization. According to Buckshi, several inefficiencies were identified, and it was determined that having all the agencies under one inclusive umbrella department wasn’t the optimal structure.

“I came to the determination that it was time to make a change, that the agency was becoming a little too big and slow to respond to customer requests,” Buckshi told New Times in August.

The General Services Agency formed in 2008, when the Industrial Technology Department merged with the then-titled General Services Department, which already included parks and recreation and airport services. The consolidation was intended to reduce expenses and enhance communication and customer service. County officials decided that wasn’t ultimately the case, however, in part because the operations and budgets for the various organizations are at times rather disparate, and would instead be better off as separate, stand-alone departments.

Buckshi told New Times that the restructuring is fiscally neutral and is intended to improve performance, rather than tinker with budgetary and employment matters. The changes will take effect 30 days after the decision, at which point the supervisors will look more closely at the new job positions and salaries before giving it a final thumbs up.

At the Oct. 7 meeting, where the decision passed 5-0 after a swift overview of the changes, Buckshi said that the partitioning would help all of the groups better serve their customers.

“Effectively what we’re talking about is eliminating that middle level of management,” Buckshi said.

-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay

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