The USM Department of Facilities Management is consolidating control of grounds and maintenance staff previously under other departments in a merger aimed at creating greater efficiency in handling facilities related concerns on campus. Currently, the Athletics and Residential Life Departments have their own custodial and grounds staffs to maintain their facilities. Under the merger, which officially begins June 9, those 25 athletics and residential staff members will report to facilities management.
Though current budget setbacks are coloring most discussions at USM of late, the decision to consolidate management of the affected positions was not solely the result of ongoing budget concerns at USM. “Cost was not the driving factor here,” said Robert Bertram, executive director of facilities management at USM.
“We’re not eliminating any positions,” Bertram said. The decision to bring all facilities and grounds related staff at USM under one roof seemed like a natural move to Bertram. “This will allow us to save some money through increased efficiency.”
Bertram said that each of the branches of grounds and facilities has busy times throughout the year. “For example, the residential life area’s crunch time is move in, move out. They do this with 18 custodians, using tremendous overtime,” Bertram said. After the merger, each of these busy times will be staffed from the same larger pool of employees. “We can put resources together,” said Bertram.
Dick Campbell, chief financial officer for USM, and his office are helping to facilitate the transfer of supervisory and other duties related to the personnel merger. Though the current plans are to keep all of the staff affected by the merger, Campbell said that might change sometime down the road. “At some future point, as we have normal turnover, we might eliminate a supervisor.”
Campbell informed The Free Press that three committees have been formed to ensure a smooth transition. One group is looking at the financial aspects related to the switch, like moving the funding for staff pay to the appropriate accounts. The second and third committees are looking at how the transfer of service will affect the residential life and athletics departments. Campbell said that their first concern is making sure that the merger doesn’t mean a drop in quality of service for any of the departments.
“We’re making sure we continue to provide service as good, if not better than, what was done in the past,” said Campbell.