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City restructures planning and engineering departments

"Oak Harbor City Planner Tom Burdett and City Engineer Ryan Goodman are both losing their jobs within the next three months or so, according to Interim City Supervisor Doug Merriman.Mayor Patty Cohen is getting rid of the positions as part of her restructuring plan for the planning, engineering and buildings departments. All three of the departments will become a single department called Permitting and Development Services, with a single administrator.Merriman said the new position, director of Permitting and Development Services, will be advertised and both Burdett and Goodman are welcome to apply. He also said there is a chance Burdett and Goodman will be offered lower-level positions with the city.Cohen spoke about the re-tooling of the permitting departments during the council meeting Tuesday night. She said the city is not immune to the changes in the business world that are forcing companies to do things more efficiently. She said the city, too, needs to change the way it does business.Yet she warned that it will not be an easy process for anyone to endure.For years the city has been receiving complaints from developers and residents about the difficulty of going through the building permit process. Merriman said the restructuring of the departments is meant to make the process more user-friendly and quicker. There will be a single desk for permitting information.We want to make it where we're not sending people all over city hall, he said.The final shape of the new, consolidated department hasn't been decided yet. According to Merriman, city administrators are in the process of analysis and have even hired a consultant to make recommendations. It will be three months or so until the changes are made, he said, but in the meantime it's business as usual.The consolidation of the departments shouldn't mean the loss of any more jobs, Merriman said, beyond Burdett and Goodman's positions.City administrators laid off four workers last week because of budget problems and they were officially given their notice this week. Merriman still would not say exactly which positions or people got the ax, but they include three civil service workers and a supervisor. Civil service workers must receive three weeks notice of a lay off. "

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