The recent resignation of the Douglas County Community Corrections director may speed that department's merger with the county's District Court services office.
County Administrator Craig Weinaug said Wednesday he would meet today with Linda Koester-Vogelsang, District Court administrator, and Pam Madl, county administrative services director, to discuss the timeline of the possible merger.
"Originally, we planned on doing it at the end of the calendar year, but now we're going to see if it would be feasible to do it sooner," he said.
Sept. 15, Pat Berry, the corrections director since 1998, told Weinaug she was resigning. Her last day was last week, so Madl is overseeing the department for now.
Berry has taken a job with the state Department of Corrections and starts Oct. 2, according to the agency's personnel department. Berry, who has lived in Lawrence since 1991, could not be reached for comment.
Since last year, Weinaug said, county officials have discussed moving the two departments into the law enforcement building together.
"We weren't planning a merger per se," he said. "Both departments handle some of the same functions but at different parts of the judicial process. It was logical for those two departments to be co-located."
Weinaug said the merger was brought up again in June when county commissioners denied a $55,000 budget request from Berry. The state allocated only $280,320 to her budget for fiscal year 2001. Instead of picking up the state's shortfall, commissioners asked Berry to eliminate a position after Jan. 1, 2001.
As part of the merger, Weinaug said, there will be only one person in charge and the salaries of a few employees may be affected. He said Berry was aware of the possible merger all along, but county officials hadn't decided who would be in charge.
"We did not ask Pat to look for anything else," he said. "It was not a forced resignation."
Weinaug said the court services officer, Ron Stegall, who supervises that department, probably will be in charge of the merged office.
Details of the merger are still being discussed, but Weinaug said the issue should come up for commission approval in the next 60 to 90 days.