Reorganization impacts three departments
Three departments — Health, Regulatory Services, and Community Planning and Economic Development — have seen significant changes in the past months as departmental functions were examined and shifted to meet the business creation and expansion goals outlined in Mayor R.T. Rybak’s 2013 City budget.
As a result, the business and development review functions formerly performed by Regulatory Services have been moved to Community Planning and Economic Development. CPED is now responsible for planning, development review and construction code services.
In addition, environmental health functions formerly performed by Regulatory Services were transferred to the Health Department, making the Health Department responsible for functions related to pollution, restaurant and hotel health inspections, healthy housing and lead abatements. The reorganization also meant a departmental name change: the Health and Family Support Department is now the Minneapolis Health Department.
Those organizational changes allow Regulatory Services Department to focus on ensuring neighborhood and building safety by conducting housing and fire inspections, correcting issues at problem properties, and offering traffic control and animal care and control services.
Community Planning and Economic Development
With the reorganization, CPED’s staff has nearly doubled, going from 117 employees to 225 employees. Although some staff members moved to CPED’s offices in the Crown Roller building, most newly transferred employees did not physically relocate. Staff at the Customer Service Center — where developers and residents obtain permits for construction or remodeling projects — are still working in the Public Service Center, even though they now report to CPED rather than Regulatory Services.
According to CPED Department Director Jeremy Hanson Willis, the reorganization continues to fulfill CPED’s original vision that was outlined when the department was created in 2006. That vision called for a single department to provide predictable and seamless service that would support and grow Minneapolis businesses from the entrepreneur’s first spark of an idea to the day the business opens its doors.
CPED had its first all-staff meeting in mid-February so that employees could begin to see how their work fits in with the City’s economic development goals. Noting that employees provide excellent customer service, Hanson Willis said one of his goals is to meet with every CPED employee on a one-on-one basis to thank them for their contribution to the City of Minneapolis, listen to their concerns and hear their suggestions for improvements. “I truly believe that public service is noble work. Our employees provide quality service to our residents and businesses, and we need to build on that success with continued improvement,” he said.
In Regulatory Services, the work assignment transitions have largely been completed. At this time, the City is in the process of filling the position of Director of Regulatory Services. The goal is to name a new director by early May, said Interim Director Jay Stroebel.
Under the reorganization, Regulatory Services will now have 140 employees and continue to focus on services aimed at keeping Minneapolis neighborhoods and properties livable and safe. In addition to retaining operations provided by Animal Care & Control and Traffic Control, the department continues to be responsible for inspecting commercial properties, homes and apartment buildings to ensure compliance with public safety regulations.
The reorganization added 40 new staff to the Health Department bringing the department staff total to 100. The staff who previously worked for Regulatory Services remain officed on the 4th floor of the Public Service Center. The remainder of the Health Department staff work in offices directly above them on the 5th floor.
According to Commissioner of Health Gretchen Musicant, the new staff and skill sets mean that the Health Department is better able to address the broad array of public health issues facing Minneapolis. The new department better reflects the interconnection of human health and the health of the environment. For example, the department now has initiatives that both promote greater access to healthy food and assure that food is safe to eat. Likewise, efforts to promote more active lifestyles are complemented with efforts to improve the quality of the air we breathe. The staff members who were previously with Regulatory Services have strong emergency response training which will help the Health Department fulfill its role as a first responder during a public health emergency.
Health Department staff showcased their collective expertise during special events held during Public Health Week, which was April 1 – 5. Later this month, the Department will begin a strategic planning process to develop a new combined business plan that will be presented to the City Council this summer.
Published Apr. 11, 2013