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Changes at city hall won't include mass layoffs

Coun. Bob Spiers
Image Credit: SOURCE/ City of Vernon
May 21, 2013 - 7:26 AM

Vernon city council voted to make a few staffing adjustments this week, and some councillors aren't sure it was the right time or the right move to make.

The decision came after a review by KPMG on the city's core services. Out of 113 recommendations, a handful dealt with changes to staffing. The report found the city was appropriately staffed in terms of bodies, but noted the planning department was rather light in comparison to other communities.

At a meeting Thursday, council passed a motion directing administration to undertake a reorganization of the community development division, including the creation of an economic development planner and a long range sustainability manager. These positions are to be funded by the elimination of the environmental planner position, the reshuffling of staff time, and some reallocation of the 2014 budget.

"They're creating two positions, eliminating one, and taking funds from other parts of the budget," Coun. Bob Spiers says. "I have my doubts this will be sustainable down the road."

He says council doesn't even know what the job descriptions or salaries will look like for the two new positions, and feels it would have been better not to approve them now.

"The idea of adding positions should take time," he says. "I couldn't agree with it now. If it was that important, it should have been discussed during our 2013 budget process."

Spiers voted against the motion, as did Coun. Catherine Lord and Coun. Patrick Nicol. The motion passed with the votes of the remaining four councillors.

Unlike some of the other recommendations, the changes in staffing are not aimed at reducing expenditures, but rather at improving service and efficiency.

"They say it won't cost the public any more money," Spiers says.

Spiers suspects the position switches will occur in 2013.

Meanwhile, council also approved a motion to relocate the community policing office from its 29 Avenue location to a city-owned site to save rent. One staff position may also be cut in this department.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Carlotte Helston at chelston@infotelnews.ca or call (250)309-5230.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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