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Sharing Workers Is Excellent Idea

Steubenville parks and recreation Director Lori Fetherolf has an idea officials — in her city and elsewhere — ought to consider seriously if they have not done so already.

Fetherolf met with City Council members last week to tell them how much money she will need next year. The process is one all department heads go through.

Equipment needs were a large part of Fetherolf’s presentation. She also told council members the parks and recreation department needs more employees. Her three-person staff simply is not adequate to handle all the work, she said.

Fetherolf asked council to provide enough money for her to take the staff up to five full-time positions. Half the salary for one of those would be covered by a grant the city received, she noted.

Then Fetherolf added a sweetener: Most parks and recreation work is during the summer months, she said. During the off-season, she and her staff could assist other departments, she offered.

“We’ve never shared employees before, but I think this might be an opportunity. Maybe they can go to another department when there’s a need,” Fetherolf added.

City Manager Jim Mavromatis said he is interested in the idea. He added that for it to be implemented, it would have to be written into the city employee union contract.

That ought to be done at the first opportunity. Steubenville’s financial condition is such that city government needs all the flexibility it can get.

Fetherolf’s suggestion is an excellent one. It reflects a willingness to abandon some of the “turf protection” philosophy that can hamper local government efficiency.

As Mavromatis put it,“We have to use our manpower to the best of our abilities. Specialization is a thing of the past.”

Steubenville City Council may not be able to satisfy all of Fetherolf’s budget requests. But her worker-sharing idea has enormous merit — and not just for the parks and recreation department. It ought to be implemented as soon as possible.

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