WILKES-BARRE — Mayor Tom Leighton unveiled Tuesday “several significant personnel and administrative changes” that he feels will improve government efficiency and service to city taxpayers.
Leighton said he and his administrative staff have been working on the plan since September and he mentioned the consolidation and restructuring in his budget address in October.
“Basically, we have less people and we are asking them to do more,” he said, noting there are a third fewer employees at City Hall than when he took office in 2004. Overall, then there were 300 employees in the city and now there are 265, he said.
“We’re assigning more responsibilities to less people,” he said.
Among the changes Leighton announced:
Drew McLaughlin, who has been the city’s administrative coordinator and spokesman at a salary of about $40,000 per year, will become municipal affairs manager at $45,000 a year, effective immediately.
He will focus on developing new city policy and initiatives with a focus on improving government efficiency and the quality of the community. Leighton said McLaughlin also will monitor state and federal legislation that will impact the city and advocate for policy changes or defend existing policies or regulations that benefit residents. He will be the chief liaison with state and federal officials, among other duties.
“Mr. McLaughlin has consistently displayed initiative with a talent for research that will be an important component of this new position,” he said. “He will work closely with the city’s grant coordinator to develop grant opportunities.”
Greg Barrouk will change titles at his same salary, going from economic development director to assistant city administrator.
In addition to his current duties, Barrouk will oversee the relocation and consolidation of departments and offices and have oversight of the Health Department, Office of Community Development and the Building Code Office.
“As deputy city administrator, he will be looking at ways to improve the marketability of the business environment in the city, not just downtown, but also improve owner-occupied residential housing options, which is vital to Wilkes-Barre building a sustainable tax base of working families,” Leighton said.
Barrouk will also assist City Administrator Marie McCormick and the mayor in the day-to-day operations.
Lori Majikes, special events coordinator, is leaving her part-time position. Leighton said her duties and McLaughlin’s will be combined into one position at a salary of $35,000 per year. Majikes plans to retire later this y ear.
Leighton sent out an e-mail late Tuesday afternoon detailing the changes coming to city operations. Here are the highlights:
* City Hall will have new hours beginning May 1, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
* To increase enforcement aimed at improving the quality of neighborhoods, the city will relocate most of the city Health Department staff to City Hall. Health inspectors will work in coordination with rental inspectors and other city officials to address neighborhood issues and be tasked with completing rental inspections, identifying and citing abandoned properties and following-up on resident complaints.
* Two full-time nurses will retain clinical and office space in the Kirby Health Center so as not to impact the quality or efficiency of the health clinics and other medical services.
* The Zoning Office will be moved to an office with direct access from the North Washington Street entrance to City Hall giving it more visibility to the visiting public.
* Laborers International Local 1310 employees who work in City Hall, the Police Department, Health Department, Department of Public Works and at Hollenback Golf Course will be required to use a punch-card time-clock system. Public works already uses a similar system.
* Margaret Sharksnas was appointed as the new right-to-know officer in addition to her current duties as a paralegal in the City Attorney’s Office. She will begin her new role effective May 1.
* Leon Schuster, director of community support, will be transferred to the Office of Community Development, where he will assist with housing-related initiatives.