As far as media releases go, Wednesday’s city hall advisory was brimming with corporate bravado.
“With its sights set on the strengthening of its leadership and organizational management, streamlining corporate financial management and the continued renewal of the Environmental Services Department,” the release breathlessly announced, “City Council has put in motion a number of strategic changes.”
What this declaration shamefully failed to include was three people would lose their jobs in the organizational restructuring.
Why the oversight?
Does their escort out the doors of city hall cast doubt on the true motives at play?
This restructuring is predicated, in part, by the findings of a curious report presented to council last fall.
The Dobbie Report — ostensibly an organizational review of the environmental services department — noted senior managers at city hall felt the lack of staff was an issue along with the need for more advanced equipment and technology such as cell phones and laptop computers.
Included in the recommendations: reduce one management level in the department; relocation of certain divisions away from city hall; the establishment of corporate teams; improvements to customer service; a review of all staff salaries to “ensure that salaries are not a deterrent to attracting new employees”; and the CAO position be a standalone post and not combined with city clerk duties as has been the case with Wendell Graves.
So on Wednesday, manager of engineering Brian Clement, corporate services officer Rita Crocker and budget officer Betty Maciejowski were given pink slips.
Less than 24 hours later, internal job postings appeared. Two of them at this point.
With Graves assuming a new post as city manager — at no increase in salary — the hunt is now on for a city clerk.
Watch for an announcement shortly introducing Maria Konefal, assistant to Graves, as the new clerk.
But what about this new position: manager of finance? What is expected of this individual? We already have a city treasurer in David Aristone.
Are we getting rid of managers only to add more in other departments?
Seems that way because a check of the city hall staff directory on Friday revealed Dave White — prior to Wednesday the supervisor of roads and transportation — and Cyril McCready — who had been the supervisor of water and wastewater — are now both sporting manager titles.
What’s the next hire . . . a manager of managers?
And if the Dobbie Report focused in on environmental services, can we expect similar reviews of other departments, like parks and recreation?
So in summary, three people are gone; another loses a title but is now a manager; we’ll soon have a stand-alone clerk; we’ll welcome aboard another manager — this time in finance; and two supervisors are promoted to managers.
Do you get the feeling we’re just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic?
ON HOLD FOR NOW
An official time-out has been called over at Community Living Elgin.
As many as 66 staffers — facing the possibility of job losses at the end of this month — gained a reprieve Thursday when it was announced the Ministry of Community and Social Services will put the organization’s financial statements under the microscope next week.
If you remember, that was the call to action voiced by OPSEU Local 151: an audit of Community Living Elgin’s finances and operations.
OPSEU vice-president Ron Elliott wanted to go a step further.
“We’ve called for the minister to put Community Living Elgin in trusteeship. To take it over, to put in a monitor.”
That’s unlikely now, however the ministry review and a follow-up report to the agency is a much-needed step in the right direction.
Executive director Tom McCallum portrayed the review as “basically coming in and looking at the financial operation in Community Living Elgin. It’s part of the transformation process, where the ministry is taking a more due diligence approach to organizations.”
All of this prompted by last month’s restructuring announcement of layoffs and program cuts to deal with the agency’s $700,000 deficit.
No word on whether the review will impact programming adjustments at Community Living Elgin.
Another key consideration: will the ministry include recommendations in its report to the agency? And will they be binding?
ROOM FOR ONE MORE
A modest victory for users of the city’s paratransit service. Monday’s meeting of city council will see the roll out of a pilot project to increase parallel transit service through the addition of a third bus for operation Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The service has been operating with just two buses and with ridership steadily increasing, the city has fielded complaints from patrons about the lack of booking opportunities during peak periods.
In 2012, there were 15,913 booking orders, which dipped to 14,653 in 2013.
However those numbers rebounded to 16,189 last year and, to through the end of May, there have been 6,446 orders this year.
That is the basis of a report to council Monday from White, the new manager of roads and transportation, recommending the return of a third bus on a trial basis.
The pilot project will begin Monday, Sept. 28 and run through to Friday, June 17 of next year, with Voyageur Transportation providing a parallel transit bus and driver.
Estimated cost this year is $20,430 and $41,523 for service through June, 2016. The money to come from dedicated gas tax funding.
Following conclusion of the pilot project, a report will come to council next June to determine whether the third bus will be extended through to 2017 and will require purchase of a city-owned vehicle to operate the additional service.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“This government has not done a great job of allocating resources to the areas that are necessary.”
MPP Jeff Yurek speaking Thursday after it was announced he would be the PC party’s official healthcare critic.
City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.