The Director of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources today outlined re-organization plans designed to cut half-a-million dollars from the department’s budget. D-N-R director Jeff Vonk says the plan is to cut the number of divisions in the department from seven to three.They’ll consolidate the fish and wildlife, forestry and parks divisions into a single division called natural resources and recreation. They’ll also consolidate the energy, waste management and environmental protection into one division called environmental services.Vonk says the proposal also cuts the number of bureaus from 21 to 16, and would move 120 to 130 D-N-R employees out of Des Moines to offices in the field. He says moving people out of Des Moines will give them a stronger presence in the state and make them more in tune with the public and less of a faceless bureaucracy.Vonk says he can make the changes without any layoffs.He expects normal turnover and the state’s early retirement program to allow them to make changes without layoffs. Vonk says there are already three senior administration positions that’re open and three more senior administrators say they’ll take early retirement. Vonk says the idea of instituting a park user fee to raise more money is not “politically feasible at this time.”Vonk says there are other user fees that could be increased to allow the department to provide quicker service. Vonk says the consolidation will have to be approved by the legislature. He says moving people outside of Des Moines will take several years to accomplish. Vonk says the D-N-R has not been re-organized since 1986.
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