Potential changes in city’s organizational structure aim to increase efficiency
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield city government could see some organizational changes following Tuesday’s Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee meeting. On Tuesday night the committee approved the creation of a facilities management section within the public works department, which would establish a centralized role for a person that would oversee issues and repairs for all of the city’s facilities. Final common council approval would still be needed before the facilities management function would become official.
Who would assume the facilities management role is not yet known, nor is the timeline for when the role would be implemented. City Administrator Steve Barg said that it is likely that the person in this role would be a public works employee and that the role would initially be an add-on to their current duties, not a new position. He added that the person who would assume this role “may get a slight bump” in salary depending on the additional workload it would create.
Director of Public Works Dan Knoeck said that a facilities management role could develop standards across the board for all city facilities.
“Currently, city facilities and buildings kind of operate in silos. There isn’t much interaction between custodial staff or maintenance activities or even service contracts. They all kind of do their own thing,” Knoeck said. He added that in the long term, if approved by the common council, the facilities management function could turn into a full-time facilities manager position.
“The city’s made some significant investments and will continue to make significant investments in public buildings. Professional management of those buildings makes sense to get the most life out of those buildings and operate them at the highest levels,” Knoeck said.
The Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee also considered the creation of an administrative services department, which would oversee the finance, technology, and assessing departments. The committee showed openness to the concept of the new department but did not approve it to move forward for a common council vote, asking that the value and duties of the role be further detailed at a future meeting.
This role would be assumed by one of the finance, technology, or assessing department heads. The role is intended to streamline the interaction between those departments and also create one person that would report to Barg for all three departments rather than the current structure where all three departments report to Barg independently.
To illustrate the potential role the administrative services department could serve, Barg used the example of the finance and technology departments potentially having a disagreement over purchasing financial software. In this scenario the administrative services department could step in to expedite the decision making process.
The three departments are candidates for additional oversight because, Barg said, “It was thought that those were the ones that really deal with a lot of the internal struggles about how we process things here that really kind of cry out for a central coordinator to make sure that when there’s bumps in the road among these departments, as there are sometimes, that someone can oversee finding solutions and resolving issues.”
The proposals for a facilities management role and administrative services department come in light of suggestions from a 2013 staffing study performed by consulting firm Springsted Incorporated, which aimed to “review the adequacy of current staffing levels, identify opportunities for operational and service efficiencies, and suggest options for the city’s organizational structure.”
Springsted initially suggested the city hire a full-time position to fill the administrative services department role, which Barg said the city will not do.
The Finance, Budget, and Personnel Committee and the common council already have approved some other organizational changes to the city government, including reassigning oversight of the airport to the public works department and reassigning oversight of the cemetery to the parks and recreation department. Previously, the airport had no formal reporting relationship with the city.
By making some of these consolidations, including the potential creation of the administrative services department, the Springsted study said that Barg would have fewer departments directly reporting to him and that he would have more time for “other functions such as building partnerships with other organizations and public entities, providing support to the common council, and engaging in public relations.”
“The overarching goal is to make our organization as efficient and effective as possible,” Barg said of the organizational changes the city is considering or has already approved.