Among the major proposals that Arlington County Manager Larry J. Brown is calling for in the next fiscal year is one that would significantly reorganize the county's mammoth and complex community affairs department.
Brown is asking the County Board to carve two separate departments out of community affairs, which is responsible for a myriad of diverse services that include parks, recreation, zoning, planning, inspections, economic development, sports, cable television and community arts programs, to name a few. The objective of the reorganization, Brown said in the budget message, would be to provide better services to a rapidly changing county by reassembling and integrating closely related functions now handled by separate agencies.
"I think it's very appropriate and timely," said William L. Hughes, the current department director who oversees a staff of 404 employes and a $20.3 million budget. "I'd say 99 percent of the staff agrees this makes a lot of sense."
"It would allow two directors to focus on the departments they're in charge of rather than being pulled in so many directions," said Hughes, who recalled starting in the department in 1965 with a budget of under $1 million.
The current department, he said, involves such a substantial amount of contact with citizens about each of the programs under its umbrella that it is difficult for the director "to be on top of everything."
"It's no longer a realistic management approach," Hughes said. "It's time to reshape it, make it contemporary."
Under Brown's plan, community affairs would be divided into two agencies:
*A Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development with a staff of 128 and a proposed budget of $11.3 million for fiscal 1987.
It would consist of current county sections dealing with planning, zoning, housing, economic development and community improvements. The last would be a new section that pulls together neighborhood, business and apartment conservation programs. The plan would also create a separate division for housing programs, which now fall under the planning division.
*A Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Resources, with a staff of 271 and a proposed budget of $9.6 million.
It would include parks, recreation, sports programming, community beautification and the offices of the extension service, senior adults, therapeutic recreation, cable television and the visual and performing arts, all in three new divisions.
The County Board has scheduled a hearing on the budget for 7 p.m. March 11 at Kenmore Intermediate School, 220 S. Carlin Springs Rd.