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Thursday, January 23, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

More staff in org. shuffle

Organizational review calls for Woolwich to keep hiring administrative staff

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Where organizational reviews in the private sector lead to reduced staffing complements, lower costs and improved efficiencies, the exercise undertaken by Woolwich calls for hiring more administrators and spending more money.

Woolwich plans to add several new administrative positions, most notably a director for a new department to be created by the separation of what is now engineering and planning services. Another top priority, says the township’s chief administrative officer, is a new public works manager.

Down the road, the township is looking to hire a human resources manager and a roads supervisor, David Brenneman told councillors meeting last week.

The additions would join the 73 full-time and 130 part-time employees on a payroll that has expanded dramatically in the past decade, as the operating budget grew by more than 90 per cent.

The $60,000 org. review, carried out by KPMG, notes full-time staff has increased by 16 per cent since 2012 alone.

Shantz wasn’t fully convinced, however, also pointing to the consultant’s report as “short on meat” in places and containing “window dressing.” –  Coun. Larry Shantz

Brenneman said increased costs of about $190,000 this year would have a “minimal financial impact” on the budget. The addition of two or three more positions next year, coupled with filling a vacancy expected to be left open for the remainder of 2019, will mean more work in developing the 2020 budget and beyond.

The hiring binge does not include any frontline staff delivering services to the public, with Brenneman noting that would be a separate process that would include looking at the possibility of outsourcing or sharing services with other municipalities.

The report met with minimal questioning from council, with only Larry Shantz and Patrick Merlihan raising concerns about some of the proposed spending.

Shantz questioned the need for a full-time human resources manager, suggesting that might be something to look at as a shared or outsourced service. But Brenneman moved quickly to counter that, arguing there is plenty of paperwork and administrivia to be done.

Shantz wasn’t fully convinced, however, also pointing to the consultant’s report as “short on meat” in places and containing “window dressing.”

Merlihan, too, noted the report was short on justifications for committing the township to spending millions on future staffing costs.

The Ward 1 councillor he was skeptical about the exercise from the start, and remains so now.

“It’s no surprise there’s additional staff,” he said of the process that calls for spending rather than savings.

“I’m very concerned about our operating budget for the next 10 years,” he added of the long-term impact on township finances.

Fellow Elmira councillor Scott McMillan, however, seemed to welcome the recommendations – “I look forward to the change that’s coming.”

Among the changes suggested, engineering and planning services will be split into two departments: planning and development, and infrastructure services. Council and information services will be reorganized as corporate services. Finance becomes financial services. Recreation and facilities services will be reorganized as community services, and will include the fire department under its banner.

Some jobs and job titles will be adjusted, with spending to be contained within existing departmental budgets.

The KPMG report was generally positive about the township, using favourable comparators.

“The benchmarking and financial analysis highlights that Woolwich is a lower-cost service provider relative to its peers. It also has the lowest residential taxes per household among the comparator group. The ongoing and anticipated development growth in the township will place pressure on the municipality to rethink its work processes and staff complement to meet the service demands of an increased population and infrastructure base,” the report reads.

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