The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners commissioned a report in December asking Georgia State University to evaluate its staffing and make reorganization recommendations, including job cuts. That report was released last month, and the university recommended cutting more than 900 positions, shocking some commissioners.
Essentially, the biggest bombshell in the report was its recommended reduction of 909 positions.
The report compared the county’s operations to similar counties, including Gwinnett and Cobb, both of which do the job with far fewer employees and expenses, the report stated. The report recommended axing 104 positions from watershed management, 125 from sanitation, 100 from fleet maintenance, 62 from parks and recreation and 60 from planning and development. Additional significant cuts were recommended for other departments.
“During our analysis we heard suggestions to freeze vacant positions and rely on attrition to reduce the personnel budget,” the report stated. “This does not fully acknowledge the severity of the economic crisis. Vacant positions should be eliminated or abolished.”
The report did not consider the county’s early retirement program, which will take more than 800 positions off the books on June 1.
Many of those unnecessary positions recommended for cuts were managerial, the report said, which impeded communication and goal setting across the government.
“In the case of DeKalb County, it is possible that increased levels of management add cost, create ambiguities about authority, slow routine actions and impede decision-making, but simply eliminating positions is not a certain cure,” the report stated.
The report indicated that the county needs to begin a strategic planning process that eventually would require blending similar departments instead of having two departments with separate goals and managers. It recommended the privatization of some county services such as recreational services and park maintenance. There also needs to be a greater focus on core services, deciding what those are and how they are staffed, it stated.
“Many managers in DeKalb County believe they have already significant staff reductions and that further reductions are not possible,” the report said. “Further cuts may certainly create problems if those cuts are done without changes to the existing organizational structure.”