Thursday, November 10, 2011

Governing board gives nod to Leaner SWFWMD; but will it be effective?

This media release by SWFWMD is several weeks old and much that it contains has been reported by the media.  Nevertheless, for the wonks who would rather the see the “word” unfiltered from the gelding’s mouth but haven’t yet stumbled across it on the district’s web page, here it is in full ... for what it’s worth. 
The hidden message here is that it's Tallahassee calling the shots.  No longer is the governing board in control of the district or its budget.  When the winds blow out of T-town, the tree bends at SWFWMD and the other four districts.  The question is, how long before they break and become just so much useless detritus at the feet of a misguided and misinformed governor who doesn't understand it's the trees that make the forest and the forest is Florida.  (You can find the original release HERE)   

October 25, 2011
The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board today directed its executive director to move forward with organizational restructuring that will increase efficiencies, reduce operational costs and meet the District’s Core Mission responsibilities in the areas of water supply, flood protection, water quality and natural systems. The plan includes staffing reductions and potential layoffs in the future.
“As an organization, we have to get leaner and more efficient,” said new Executive Director Blake Guillory. “The more quickly we can get right-sized for our budget and workload, the faster we can move forward, secure in our jobs, to meet the water resource challenges of this District.”
The District’s current budget is 44 percent less than last year. Thanks to its pay-as-you-go philosophy, the District has reserves available to help balance the budget now. However, if it maintains the current level of funding for cooperative funding and ecosystem restoration projects, the District will face a $30 million per year budget shortfall by October 2013.
“We either have to reduce our costs significantly or reduce our cooperative funding and ecosystem restoration efforts in the future,” Guillory said.
The proposed restructuring addresses many of the issues raised in a recent Workload and Staffing Analysis of the District completed by North Highland consulting firm. The analysis identified the potential to increase the District’s efficiency and reduce costs by restructuring the organization and improving its technology, processes and procedures.
The executive leadership team has spent the last three weeks reviewing each Division and Program to identify opportunities to combine programs for efficiency and effectiveness. The restructuring is expected to save the District more than $15 million per year.
Part of the plan includes realigning staff based on the types of work they do to increase efficiency and reduce duplication. For example, the creation of the Operations, Maintenance & Construction Division pulled together all the field operations, maintenance and construction of the District under one Division. One proposal is to move water quality and other data collection and monitoring programs into the Operations, Maintenance & Construction Division. This change could open up cross-training opportunities. For example, field maintenance staff may be able to assist in sampling activities. The District is also reviewing the appropriate level of sampling that is needed.
The District is also looking at the possibilities of creating new or redefined Bureaus in the future that will focus on specialty areas with growing needs. As an example, the District is considering creating a Natural Systems and Environmental Restoration Bureau in the Resource Management Division to address the growing water quality issues.
Reduction In Force
The District currently has 768 employees. The restructuring plan would reduce staff by 130–150 positions of which approximately 40 are funded vacant positions or contractual positions whose work is winding down. District staff will be offered a voluntary separation plan that will be available for 45 days. If the voluntary efforts don’t produce the necessary reductions, the District will have involuntary layoffs in January or February to meet its goals.
“We are blessed with smart and talented people. Unfortunately, we are caught in a situation driven by economic conditions,” Guillory said. “We need to be as thoughtful and helpful as we can during this process while also serving the taxpayers of our area.”

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