Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy is studying whether to combine the county’s human services and community services departments.
In a letter to the County Council Tuesday (here’s a copy), McCarthy says she has asked Deputy Executive Kevin Phelps to lead a team to examine whether the move would save money, increase efficiency and improve the programs. She wants a report by Jan. 15.
The human services department provides services like chemical dependency, mental health and long-term care. Community services covers everything from arts and tourism to homeless assistance and low-income housing.
In the letter, McCarthy also reports on the progress of an effort to improve permitting. She says she’ll give the council more details in January.
The letter is evidence that McCarthy is following up on her campaign pledge to re-examine county government to make it more customer friendly.
Now the question is, will the County Council wait until January?
Council members already are talking about consolidating departments and services to cut administrative costs and save money. Some want to combine human services and community services. And they’re thinking sooner, not later.
Action could come as the council prepares its 2010 budget. The council gets down to business on the budget at a hearing this afternoon. It will take up a series of ordinances and resolutions that implement next year’s budget.
The public hearings continue Friday and Monday. Final approval of the budget is expected Tuesday.