Council members raise serious concerns about reorganization of Community Services negatively impacting Neighborhood Place

September 14, 2015

Louisville – During a special meeting Monday of the Metro Council’s Community Affairs Committee, several Council members raised concerns about an effort to reorganize staff positions in the Department of Community Services that could negatively impact Neighborhood Places throughout our community.

Katina Whitlock, Director of the department appeared before the Committee to explain reorganization was ongoing and a realignment of supervisors will effect eight Neighborhood Place locations.

Several members were vocal about the lack of information provided on the proposed reorganization that lays off 15 employees as well as changes not yet vetted with partners at Neighborhood Place.

“It sounds confusing to no longer have a coordinator in each location to know what is going in the building;” said Councilwoman Marianne Butler (D-15). “Neighborhood Place is important to this Council and community. A few years ago we sent a strong message to keep the Neighborhood Places and it sounds like we need to send a bigger message so the administration understands our residents need these services in the neighborhoods with an Administrator to coordinate everything.”

“Can I ask when you planned to share these changes with Metro Council?” said Councilman David James (D-6). “I would say this is not a personnel matter, this will affect services to people in our districts.”

“I think this approach is very naïve. If we need to be strengthening agency partners, we should have been doing that all along. I think this plan will put many of our citizens at a great disadvantage,” said Councilwoman Jessie Green (D-1).

“You have mentioned you are meeting with partners on Monday afternoon, why now it seems after the fact?” says Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin (D-2) who chairs the Committee.

“We should be working together on this. If you had asked us to be involved then we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Councilwoman Cindi Fowler (D-14). “It is the people we represent who are going to be affected by these changes and it’s just common courtesy to tell us what is going on.”

“This is not a personnel matter it’s a major reorganization. You said that you will be talking with your partners about this, what if they say no?’ said Councilman Kelly Downard (D-16).

“This sounds like you are putting the cart before the horse. You are making these drastic changes without knowing the impact of what you are about to do or how you partners are going to react,” said Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5). “We can’t pass the buck under the guise of better efficiency.”

“I can’t see how this plan has been a boost for staff morale and the clumsy way you have answered questions shows me it was not raised in the budget process, in fact no mention of it and in 30 days you are talking about major personnel changes,” said Councilman Steve Magre (D-10). “It seems like this plan is coming out of the clear blue.”

Several Council members told Whitlock that they sent out surveys to constituent on issues needing attention. There were no concerns raised about lack of or inefficient services at Neighborhood Place.

Whitlock indicated a decision about the employees would be made on October 19th.

Many Council members then asked the Administration to delay any further action on moving forward with the plan until several questions are answered. The Administration indicted before the meeting adjourned that it will work to get those questions answered.