DEP Tells CAC Filled Positions Nearly Level Last 3 Years Inspite Of Complement Cuts
DEP Executive Deputy for Administration Jeff Logan told the DEP Citizens Advisory Council Tuesday the number of filled staff positions has been nearly level the last three years hovering around 2,580 inspite of cuts in overall staff complement.
The specific numbers presented by Logan were: FY 11-12- complement- 2,770/filled- 2,598; FY 12-13- complement- 2,770/filled 2,578; FY 12-13- complement- 2,729/filled 2,576; Projected FY 14-15- complement 2,663/filled 2,605.
Gov. Corbett’s proposed FY 2014-15 budget has overall staff complement at DEP reduced by another 66 positions. DEP’s complement has been reduced by 548 positions since FY 2002-03 or 17 percent, most occurring from 2003 to 2010.
Logan said the proposed budget also reflects several other major changes-- a consolidation of DEP and DCNR personnel functions, a reduction in federal indirect monies by more than $2.3 million and a $10 million increase in General Government Operations funding.
Logan said staff productivity in terms of numbers of permits process and number of inspections completed have increased over the last three years which he attributed in part to the Permit Decision Guarantee Program.
CAC member Walter Heine pointed out that two of the three staff CAC had to support the Council’s operations have been cut in the last five years which has significantly decreased the Council’s effectiveness in his opinion.
Logan said DEP is also monitoring the agency’s special funds to make sure the permit fees charged cover program expenses. He noted the Radiation Protection Fund is projecting a deficit about three years from now.
During his report to Council, DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo said the agency can no longer sustain cuts to its workforce and to ask people to do more and more with fewer resources is not sustainable.
He said the Governor’s Budget Office has been supportive of filling positions where DEP can demonstrate a need for them.
Click Here for an analysis of DEP and DCNR budget cuts/increases over the last 13 years.
Secretary Abruzzo said DEP is planning to commemorate Earth Day 2014 (April 22) in a number of ways-- presenting the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards at a dinner sponsored by the PA Environmental Council, awarding the next round of environmental education grants, participating in a special Phillies baseball Red Goes Green event, having the DEP At Home energy conservation display in the Capitol Building in Harrisburg and other cleanup and service events by employees across the state.
He noted he will be participating in a Great American Cleanup In PA event near his home in Hershey.
On the timetable for finalizing the Chapter 78 drilling regulations, Secretary Abruzzo said the department received over 22,000 comments, many of them form letters, raising a variety of issues. DEP staff will be taking their time going through all the comments and changes will be made to the regulations based on those comments.
He said he doubted they will complete the work needed to finalize the regulations until the end of the year.
A number of Council members commended DEP for going above and beyond in holding nine public hearings and extending the public comment period to provide more opportunity for public input.
In response to a question about follow-up to the Act 13 drilling law court decision, Secretary Abruzzo said they are trying to bring some certainty to the permitting process, especially relating to the setback provisions the court invalidated. Drilling companies are heeding the Governor’s call, he said, to comply with existing setbacks, but noted two or three permits did become a problem.
He also reported DEP has selected six more watersheds for targeted agriculture compliance inspections like the agency successfully did in Soft Run Watershed in Mifflin County.
DEP also submitted its regular monthly written report to the CAC.
During Council’s public comment period, Bonita Hoke, PA League of Women Voters, recommended DEP conduct a thorough review of all its programs in-lieu of the Act 13 drilling law court decision allowing municipalities to regulate land uses under the authority of the Environmental Rights Amendment to Pennsylvania’s Constitution.
Hoke also said DEP’s decisions should be data-driven noting many programs do not measure the right things in determining whether a program is a success.
The Policy and Regulatory Oversight Committee reported on its review of several Air Quality Program regulations recommending DEP move ahead with regulations related to flexible packaging, fiberglass boat manufacturing materials and miscellaneous metal parts surface coating processes to the Environmental Quality Board for consideration. The full Council adopted the recommendation.
The Committee recommended DEP not move ahead with a proposed rulemaking covering industrial cleaning solvents until more background is gathered on what types of operations would be affected and information on how other states implemented similar regulations. The full Council adopted the recommendation.
Council spent the remainder of the meeting developing a list of priority projects it would consider pursuing in 2014 with the goal of narrowing down the list at its next meeting on April 15.
For more information and copies of available handouts, visit the DEP Citizens Advisory Council webpage.
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