What could be a major consolidation of Pierce County government may start to take shape next month, county officials say.
First up: a possible consolidation of the county’s human services and community services departments.
A committee studying the issue will make a recommendation on what to do about those departments by the end of February, Deputy County Executive Kevin Phelps told the County Council Tuesday.
The committee may or may not recommend combining human and community services. But consolidation will be a significant theme this year as Pierce County searches for efficiencies at a time of declining revenue.
Last fall County Executive Pat McCarthy requested a report on the feasibility of consolidating the human services and community services departments. The council requested reports on consolidating planning and land services into public works and utilities. And it asked McCarthy to study combining five other departments – human resources, budget and finance, facilities, risk management and information technology – into a new “general services division.”
County officials see human and community services as an obvious place to start discussions of consolidating county departments. The two departments have been combined in the past.
Human services includes 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.
Phelps and McCarthy gave the County Council an update on consolidation talks at a council study session Tuesday.
Phelps told the council an 11-member committee has been comparing organizational charts, programs and processes in human and community services. It will report next month on whether the consolidation is a good idea. It’s also exploring how such a consolidation might take place if the council orders it.
McCarthy wanted a report by Jan. 15. But on Tuesday council members seemed impressed with the work done to date and expressed a willingness to wait until the end of February.
“It sounds like the kind of stuff you’re into is the kind of stuff that makes sense,” said council Chairman Roger Bush, R-Graham. “I’m pleased with what I’ve heard.”
The other consolidation reports the council requested are due June 30. The council wants recommendations before it takes up next year’s budget next fall.