BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – An effort of find more efficiencies and outreach will result in a restructuring of staff at the Lee County Conservation District this year.
LCCD Director Nathan Unsworth unveiled the new plans to the district’s board of directors at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.
“The goal here is try and keep a steady workflow throughout the year and create some different opportunities and engagement throughout the whole staff,” Unsworth said.
The new structure will also allow for more upward mobility for some of the staff that can’t move up under the current structure.
Changes would include transitioning the current administrative assistant position to an Administrative and Outreach Coordinator.
Unsworth said that position would continue to assist the director with functions and customer service, but would also take on some marketing and promotional activities.
“They would lead the social media and things that have become important for our parks. That’s the easiest and most efficient way to reach a lot of people,” Unsworth said.
The position would also take on some educational duties as far as coordinating schedules, and function as a liaison with the education specialists and groups wanting programming. There would also be some community relations and partnering responsibilities.
Unsworth also proposed to eliminate the Environmental Education Coordinator and transfer those job duties to a position called Environmental and Outdoor Education Specialist 2.
Naturalists will now be known as Environmental and Outdoor Education Specialist 1. Conservation Techs would be renamed Conservation Tech 1 and a Conservation Tech 2 position would be created.
Rangers and Operations Coordinator would also see an updated pay scale.
“There will be an impact to our budget a little bit in the short term and over the start of the new fiscal year, but we can absorb that with the delay of the second naturalist hire,” Unsworth said “Timing that to start with the new fiscal year allows us to shift the budget so we don’t have to ask for additional funding from supervisors, which they appreciate,” Unsworth said.
Supervisor Matt Pflug, who sat in on the meeting, asked Unsworth why the new structure wasn’t brought up during budget negotiations.
“The first question the board is going to have is why it wasn’t brought up during the time of the budget,” Pflug said.
Unsworth said the plans weren’t far enough along to present to the board at that time. Unsworth said the total impact of the budget should be very similar to the budget that was approved earlier this year.
“This is something I think will help us achieve the long-term goals we’ve set for ourselves. It’s more efficient and will better utilize our time and we’ll see some gains in outcomes of the department. This is a big change that will bring some positive changes to the organization.”
New board member Mary Van Pelt asked if the pay scale was reflective of the staff’s tenure within the district.
“The pay scale has to be a concern. I know when I was working we hired a new person at the same rate I was making and I had been there 10 years and that hurt. I look at the pay scale and hope that people that have been their the longest are accommodated,” she said.
Unsworth said the district follows the county step process.
The board approved the new structure unanimously with a 4-0 vote.
The board is also looking for a replacement for one board member who had to resign the position.