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Travis Commissioners move forward with upper manager reorganization

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by Michael Kanin

The Travis County Commissioners’ Court is taking steps to move forward with its reorganization of the county’s upper management. Last week, they voted to add three top-tier pay grades, new titles for the now-former Executive Managers, and moved toward resolution of questions about the empty County Executive of Administrative Operations position.


However, the court was unable to resolve specific questions about the salary levels of its highest ranking employees. A recent study has concluded that these officials are generally underpaid.


Pct. 4 Commissioner Margaret Gomez was able to vote for each of the items that came before the court. This was despite her objections to the vacant administrative operations role and how it got to be that way. Most of her colleagues agreed.


But Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis continued to vote against most of the reorganization. He and Gomez have long opposed any reorganization of the county’s managers. Their objections stem from the dismissals of former Executive Manager for Administrative Operations Alicia Perez and Human Resources department head Linda Moore Smith.


Gomez’s change of heart could be thanks to the fact that County Judge Sam Biscoe motioned to direct the county’s Human Resources department to develop a job description for the Administrative Operations executive. That action also passed, with Davis abstaining and Pct. 3 Commissioner Karen Huber dissenting. 


Huber’s objection added a new wrinkle to the debate over the fate of top level county managers. “This is organizational development for almost 5,000 employees by default,” she said. “We’re developing job descriptions for senior level managers (and) we’re not even sure how they’re interacting, and whether or not they’re best suited under one (manager).”


In addition to the Administrative Operations position, the county will also begin the process of filling a new technology executive position.


Biscoe disagreed with Huber. “It’s not like we’re rushing into this,” he said.


“At some point we have to prioritize looking at this and making a decision,” he continued. “I would think that we move them to the front burner and move forward as best we can, otherwise they will just languish. The other thing is that some of the work before us really requires that we get them filled as soon as possible, or accept the status quo as our way of doing it.”

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