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Incomplete $300K Org Study Highlights Govt Dysfunction, Staff Proposed “Throwing money” at the Problem

A $300,000 study conducted by Segal consulting firm makes the case for more executive positions and increased pay. “These changes are big. I have not experienced anything remotely comparable to what we’re suggesting here in my 28 years.” ~ Carroll County Budget Director

An organizational and workforce assessment authorized by the prior commissioner board recommended that the county government increase pay, add new positions, and anticipated significant operational cost increases resulting from organizational changes to Fire and EMS.

In September of 2021, the Carroll County Commissioners approved a $300,000 contract for a compensation, classification and organizational design study with Segal, a consulting firm, after recognizing a declining number of qualified job applicants paired with an aging county workforce as reported by another local news source.

In an introductory email to government employees, then Commissioner President Ed Rothstein made it clear the scope of the study would not look to achieve operational efficiencies thru staffing reductions.  “While this may challenge us to think about different ways of operating and delivering services and support to our community, it is not intended to reduce our current staff or workforce.”

Segal consultants along with Ted Zaleski, Director of Management and Budget, began to report the study’s findings to the commissioners in March 2022, and the results were damning.

The slide deck presentation opens with a grim prediction related to the then-commissioners’ decision to integrate the Fire and EMS organizations back in 2020, noting that “the financial impacts of the integration of Fire and EMS are unclear and have not been fully assessed, and there is potential for significant cost increases to the county to fully implement and sustain this plan.”

The study goes on to describe severe organizational challenges faced by the county government, spanning a lack of shared vision, poor employee morale, a dysfunctional Human Resources Department, and an aging workforce.  

Segal recommended a series of staff increases to address the organizational challenges, one of which included a new Deputy Director executive position that would focus on the day-to-day operations so the County Administrator can focus on strategic initiatives.  Other resource needs were forecasted in HR, Technology and Fire/EMS but suggested a more indepth review of the organizational processes to justify the needs before committing.

Several opportunities to gain operational efficiencies were identified.  For example, the Public Works department was described as being “too large and complex…a barrier to more efficient operations and enhanced services levels”.  Segal suggested that certain sub-departments from the division could be folded into a General Services unit.  Staff reductions would not be recommended – staying true to the study’s core mission.

Blanket 10% Pay Increases Approved With No Known Way to Fund Them

During the presentation a reference was made to an “upcoming formal compensation analysis” that would review the Carroll County Government’s current payscale to address market competitiveness, pay inequities and incentives.  To date, this analysis has not been provided by Segal, but in open session on July 14 2022, Zaleski was eager to bring forward a recommendation to the commissioners that would increase pay scales by 10%, including his own salary.

“You haven’t seen a final report from Segal yet, so you might be saying ‘Why are we talking about this now?’…We don’t have the final report from them yet, but we believe we have the work from them we need in order to give you these final recommendations…We can’t afford to wait.”

Zaleski would go on to make the case for the 10% organization-wide pay scale increase that would apply to current and new positions, citing an urgent need to boost employee morale and fill 69 open jobs.  

“These changes are big. I have not experienced anything remotely comparable to what we’re suggesting here in my 28 years.”

Significant concerns were raised by then-commissioners Rothstein, Richard Weaver, Dennis Frazier, Stephen Wantz and Eric Bouchat regarding how to fund pay increases amounting to $7 million with a budget that was already projected to have a deficit.  

“We are not able to live within our means,” said Rothstein.

Wantz would question the effectiveness of the increase.  “Throwing money at prospective employees…I don’t think it’s the answer.  I think it’s more about the quality of the workplace.”

Weaver inquired about the reason for the delay in the Segal study and whether there were any performance clauses in the contract.  Zaleski would have no answers. 

The blanket increase did not take into consideration a position-by-position analysis; appearing to address the situation with a hatchet where a scalpel may have been needed.

Despite the reservations expressed by the commissioner members, the board would go on to unanimously approve the 10% pay increases – a move that would serve as another parting gift for the current, newly elected board.

Informed Carroll continues to research the study and will report more on the story.


The full Segal Study presentation.

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