Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Morris County, NJ – Reducing costs is a challenge for all levels of governments, but Morris County is taking advantage of retirements and restructuring operations to reduce staff and expenses and save more than $2.2 million in the process.

Restructuring plans impacting the County Library, Planning and Public Works Departments, and Morris View Healthcare Center were presented at the freeholder public work session Sept. 11 by members of the Freeholder Budget Subcommittee, including freeholders Hank Lyon, John Krickus, and Freeholder Director Tom Mastrangelo.

“These restructuring efforts are vital in keeping taxes down,” said Freeholder Lyon, who chairs the Budget Subcommittee. “We are highly appreciative of the hard work of the county administration and staff.”

“Reducing staff through attrition is a win-win for the taxpayers and county employees, as we reduce costs without layoffs,” said Freeholder Deputy Director David Scapicchio, Freeholder Liaison to the Department of Public Works.

The Morris County Library is the most recent example of a successful restructuring initiative. With several employees retiring this year, Lynne Olver, library director continues to reorganize the workflow to create maximum efficiencies.

“Since the economic downturn, the library has downsized staff by 25 percent overall,” Olver said. “We are now restructuring so that several full-time positions will be replaced with part-time employees, saving not only salary but benefit costs as well. The library is doing all it can to serve the residents of Morris County through these challenging times.”

The library restructuring will save a total of $447,873, including salaries and benefits in 2014, with a net reduction of five full-time positions.

For 2014, the Freeholder Board has authorized merging the Planning and Public Works Departments in anticipation of the retirement of public works director and County Engineer Steve Hammond.

“With the reorganizing of divisions within the planning and public works areas, there will be better synergy and efficiencies within the new department,” Hammond said. “There will be a net savings of more than $176,000 in 2014 and a net reduction of two full-time positions in the creation of the newly merged department, which Deena Leary, current director of planning and development, will ably head next year.”

Morris View Healthcare Center also implemented a change in the staffing patterns earlier this year that is reducing expenses by $1 million. The county works with Premier Healthcare Resources to manage and administer the facility, and this staffing change has been one of their initiatives to reduce costs, which has been critical in light of managed Medicaid and other funding changes.

“Premier has been working with the county and has identified ways to be more efficient in regards to nursing staffing patterns,” said Cathy Engler, Morris View Healthcare Center administrator. “While there is no impact on resident care, we have identified ways to reduce overtime and outside agency usage.”

The facility is also reducing some administrative, nursing and aide positions that had been vacant for several years, resulting in an additional savings of more than $370,000.

“Internal controls that tie shift scheduling to each unit’s census are resulting in savings,” said Frank Pinto, director of the county’s Department of Human Services. “These reductions will not affect the quality of care for our residents and our five-star rating at Morris View.”

In addition to these three key areas, there has also been reorganization in other areas, including the Department of Employee Resources, the county Adjustor’s Office and Telephone Services, resulting in more than $200,000 in savings and a reduction of two full-time positions.

The Freeholder Budget Subcommittee, as well as the entire Freeholder Board remains dedicated to achieving efficiencies and cost-savings whenever opportunities are presented.

The Board affirmed its commitment to continue these efforts throughout the 2014 budget process.