Leading By Example As He Also Eliminates Positions And Merges Jobs
By STEVEN GOODE
September 16, 2010
HARTFORD — — He drives his city-issued car himself, pumps his own gas at the public works yard, and has yet to use his city-issued credit card or traveled at taxpayer's expense.
That's the kind of tone that Mayor Pedro Segarra is trying to set at city hall.
Since taking office, Segarra has eliminated the positions of the mayor's driver and director of human relations. He appointed Jose Rivas Colon to be his chief of staff, but also told him to keep his position as executive director of the office of young children.
The job reductions should save the city more than $200,000, Segarra said.
"I am hoping that I am setting an example for other departments," he said.
Segarra also merged several offices. He put the human relations function with the corporation counsel's office, and moved the capital projects division, which oversees school and city construction projects, to the department of public works.
He told David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer, to oversee the city's procurement process.
"In order for there to be an open [procurement] process, it needs to be streamlined. It also avoids political tampering," Segarra said. "The city should get the best price it can, and you can't do that when you have 30, 40 or 50 different processes. This will be more efficient."
Segarra said the cost-cutting moves were driven by a "very real fiscal crisis that is confronting the city," and a desire to change the city's image at the legislature.
"When I go to the Capitol I don't want to hear that we are wasting money," he said.
Segarra has so far refused to make any patronage appointments and has refused requests for them by others.
"We have a big responsibility to residents," he said. "It's not my money — it's the people's."
Segarra recently told department heads about his plans, and also announced that their pay would be based on performance and accomplishment. Panagore has been told he will be responsible for compiling performance goals to determine accomplishment.
He also said the city's hiring freeze would apply to all positions, with safety, grant-writing, regulatory and revenue positions taking precedence for filling as money allows.
All other frozen positions would require a minimum of 60 days' wait for possible approval. Segarra also announced that he is updating and reviewing city policies, including ethics, freedom of information, training, travel, parking and employment. Policy changes do not require approval of the city council.
Segarra said department heads are expected to report back to him by Oct. 1 on their strategies for the current fiscal year to meet the mayor's goals of cutting spending, increasing revenue and improving services to residents.
"It's going to happen because I will not tolerate insubordination," he said, adding that the department heads' strategies will be implemented by January.
With a public works department decimated by layoffs and other departments operating at a bare minimum, Segarra is hopeful that the measures will save the city a significant amount of money and possibly avoid more layoffs.
But if that doesn't happen Segarra acknowledged that "we might have to do more," referring to further staff reductions.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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