It seems like Spring has finally joined us and I’m sure many of you are as elated by the change of season as I am.
I have heard some anxiety in the community over what is described as a move to hire a whole lot of new, expensive staff to expand the ranks of the municipality. This is not accurate so I would like to take a moment to give you some facts. Much of what has gone on is a reorganization of positions. What I will do is describe the staff hires and consultant contracts that we have seen since the budget was introduced in early 2011 (ie: the beginning of the current council term). In that time the organization has been realigned from four into three departments: Corporate Services, Operation, Community and Protective Services. The joint role of HR and Legislative Services has been eliminated and brought under Corporate Services.
Let me note first that during budget deliberations I spoke out very strongly against most of the new positions because I did not feel there was enough data to justify them. Also note that not all of the vacant jobs in the municipality were full throughout the year so we were actually fairly understaffed in 2011.
New – 1 Recreation Programmer (FT); this full time role was recommended in the previous council’s strategic plan. The goal of the position was to help separate the FCSS and Recreation support roles. Additionally, it was meant to promote better utilization of our facilities.
New – 1 Legislative Clerk (FT); assistant to the head of HR & Legislative Services. This role has since changed since the Director of HR and Legislative Services position no longer exists and is more to do with support for Council and the CAO. In retrospect, even though I opposed the creation of this position at the time, it is much better to have a staff member doing legislative work rather than a Director, which is what was happening before.
New – 1/2 Finance Clerk (PT); This part time role was created to help in Finance and is shared with another position.
Moved – Manager of Operations; This role bridges the gap between a director, who is working on policy, budgets, and programming in the office, and the need to have someone overseeing the outside operations. You need someone in amongst the troops. The previous council eliminated a similar foreman position. Because of this, some people will see this as a new position but it is simply a changed role that is necessary to the operation of the municipality.
Vacant – Director of HR and Legislative Services; This position was not filled after the departure of the director in June. I describe the changes to the position in 2012.
Replacement – CAO (term contract); After the sudden departure of our former CAO, council was left with an important role to fill on short notice. Transitional Solutions (represented by Kevin Robins), a company specializing in restructuring municipalities and providing interim management solutions, was contracted to take over. As a contractor the amount paid was a bit higher than having a permanent CAO in place, however we needed to have someone at the helm and the company took on additional restructuring work in the time period so it was a good fit for the May to November period of the contract. It is important to note that when this company is contracted, they have a representative in place but they have a network of people working for them that do background work so there is a lot of additional value here.
Replacement – CAO (permanent); The permanent replacement for the CAO position. If there is any doubt as to the necessity of this position – yes, we need a Chief Administrative Officer. This is the person that is charged with managing all of the directors and reports directly to the council.
Vacant – Director of Community Services; The director was dismissed August (I stand to be corrected on the date) and the position was not filled because of the reorganization that was occurring in the Fall.
Contract – Peace Officer Program / Director of Community and Protective Services (term contract); Transitional Solutions was hired to create a Peace Officer Program as part of the Community Strategic Action Plan. Ms. Tona has also been working as the interim Director of Community and Protective Services. This cost of this contract is partially displaced by the August to April vacancy I mentioned above.
New – Manager of Protective Services / Fire Chief; This role was created in October but not hired until December, and that was only on a contract basis. This is one role I supported, as did the rest of council. The reason is that it was recommended in the Task Force on the Economy, the Cuff Report, and other studies dating back to 2000. It was also alluded to in the previous Council’s strategic plan. This role is not just Fire Chief, mind you. It will have many other functions with the new Peace Officer Program. The Fire Chief will have other expanding duties, such as inspecting buildings for fire code compliance.
Replacement – Director of Operations; This position was vacant from November until February when the previous director moved into the CAO role.
Moved – Manager of Corporate Services; This used to be the Director of HR and Legislative Services but that position was removed and put under Corporate Services in the October organization realignment. It is important to note that this position was vacant from approximately June to February so that salary was NOT PAID FOR EIGHT MONTHS. This role now serves an HR management function under Corporate Services, with a portion of the time dealing with managing the staff assigned to finance. Dealing with HR and Legislative issues was really two separate, and almost full time jobs and it was extremely difficult to find people who had director level experience in both. I will say that I was not in favour of having a combined HR/finance role but I also promised to not micromanage our administration.
Moved – Director of Community and Protective Services; This role has assumed the responsibility of managing both community programming and protective services. Our Bylaw Officer currently reports directly to the CAO and this will simply change the reporting structure so that the CAO is not trying to manage a specific department while focusing on the entire organization. I did express concern about this combined role but, like I said above, I promised to not micromanage our administration.
Moved – 1 Peace Officer (FT); The existing Bylaw Officer position is being changed into a Peace Officer. The salary is virtually the same so it is not what I have heard described as “an expensive” staff position.
Pending – 1 Peace Officer (TBD); This second PO role is not a given. There is still a lot of discussion around how and if we will implement this role. I am personally in favour of having it as a contract position until we are confident we need two positions. There is a lot of work to be done in this area, which I describe in a previous post. It is really important to note that POs are actually a revenue generator. I’m not talking about chasing after bylaw infractions either. If a PO gives three traffic tickets a day, they can bring in more than their annual expenditure.
Replacement – 1 Building Codes Officer (FT); This is an existing position that was vacated in 2010 through retirement. The position was contracted out to a private company but, after arbitration with CUPE, it was determined that this position needed to be filled. The Collective Agreement sets out very clear criteria as to when a position needs to be filled and we abide by that.
We also have a few other CUPE positions that are currently vacant. Some of them may ore may not be filled but that will depend on further discussions with our union.
The idea of a whole lot of expensive new staff is innuendo and speculation so I hope this helps clarify some of what is going on. When an organization is going through a lot of changes, I can understand that there may be confusion.