RAVENNA -- Portage County commissioners hope changes to the internal operating structure of the administration will help "lean" county government.

With the retirement and departure of Deborah Mazanec, the commissioner's chief administrative, the board decided to reorganize existing personnel to streamline communication and the decision-making process.

Commissioner Maureen Frederick said last week the changes are for the better, with the goal to ease communication and limit paperwork coming before the board.

Gene Roberts, head of water resources and formerly Kent service director, was appointed as head of external services. He will have authority over the county solid waste district, motor pool, homeland security and the Emergency Management Agency, the dog warden and building inspections.

Amy Hutchinson, the board's clerk, is currently fulfilling the duties of Mazanec, though under the purview of a different supervisor. Previously, that role was directly under the board; under the new structure, the clerk's position falls under the category of internal services.

JoAnn Townend, the director of internal services, willlead all internal services, including the clerk, microfilm, building maintenance, purchasing and the commissioners office. Townend also will act as the gateway for all outside agencies seeking to interact with the board.

Separate departments outside the scope of internal and external services are Portage County Job and Family services under Kellijo Jeffries, budget and finance under Todd Bragg, human resources under Janet Kovick, and the WIC program.

In addition to the organizational structure, the board and department heads are also aiming to streamline agendas and the legislative process.

Previously, each department head met with the board to bring forth items for approval under either consent agendas (a blanket approval of multiple items previously discussed), journal entries (items discussed in open meeting that, upon approval, have legal weight) or resolutions (more formal approval of an item).

The leadership team is now hoping to combine all consent items and journal entries into one agenda, leaving more time to discuss more important items on the agenda.

Email: mmerchant@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4156