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Rec centers and libraries may become one Allison K. Sampité | Sat, Jun 23 2012 12:00 PM

Chula Vista Councilman Rudy Ramirez’s proposal to merge two city departments in an effort to capture savings passed on a 3-2 vote Tuesday.

Ramirez asked the council to combine the library and recreation departments.

“The idea to consolidate is to preserve and enhance the services for the future — to make them more relevant and available,” Ramirez said.

City Manager Jim Sandoval said the city attempted to consolidate the departments between 1998 and 2000.

“It was a not a good experience … the library went downhill,” Sandoval said.

He also said that in implementing the proposal, he would eliminate both directors and look at the market value for one.

“One concern I have is something as simple as span of control — one person overseeing 160 employees in 19 locations in the city with almost no support from other managers,” he said. “… I think it would be very difficult for that person to be successful.”

Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan said there’s no justification for the merger.

“I think the idea is penny-wise and pound-foolish,” she said.

Eight public speakers were in opposition to the consolidation, including Chula Vista board of the library chair Brian Young.

“You’d end up with a Jack of all trades and master of none,” he said.

Buck Martin heads the Park  and Recreation Department.

“As the director of recreation department at least until July 1, I want to do everything I can to ensure that my partner in community service, Betty Waznis, is successful,” Martin said Wednesday. “I’m sad that I won’t be able to continue because there are so many cool things happening right now.”

Waznis, who is the director of library services and expected to take over both departments,  said that times are challenging.

“I think the times we’re in, any new idea ... maybe have a look,” she said. “We’re all gonna do the best we can.”

A final vote is expected June 28.

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