Watson restructures government, promotes leaders
By Justin Vick
MONROE – Mark Watson spent most of his first 30 days as county manager trying to restructure local government.
When Watson announced changes to the county’s reporting structure publicly Feb. 4, he said it was the first day during his tenure that he had time to sit at his desk without having to go from meeting to meeting.
Union County used a flat reporting structure from 1994 to 2013 that saw as many as 30 people reporting directly to the county manager. Watson said a restructuring in 2013 made oversight more efficient, but challenges remained.
”The purpose of improving the reporting structure is to make Union County government more open, more effective and more accountable,” Watson said, noting no additional full-time positions are needed.
Watson is empowering a deputy county manager and two assistant county manager to have operational authority.
• Michelle Lancaster has been promoted to deputy county manager after four years as assistant county manager. She’ll oversee human services, strategic communications, information technology, as well as its tax and financial operations.
• Brian Matthews becomes assistant county manager. He’ll be responsible for building code enforcement, environmental health and zoning, planning, public works, facilities and fleet. He was executive director of growth management.
• Michael James becomes assistant county manager. He’ll be responsible for resident services departments, including the library, parks and recreation, Cooperative Extension, soil and water conservation, 911 communications, emergency management and the fire marshal. He was previously assistant to the county manager.
Watson said adjustments will be made when necessary to ensure effective and efficient government.
Commissioner Richard Helms said he looks forward to working with the new structure. He’s thankful the county is recognizing some of its talented staff.