PENTICTON - Penticton's departing city manager has nothing but praise for the people she’s worked with and will always see Penticton as home.
The city announced Antoniak's imminent departure yesterday to a private sector position to be announced at a later date.
Annette Antoniak recently spoke about the changes that have taken place in the city’s operations since she took the reins.
"I arrived in Penticton at a very challenging time, when the city had just completed its core review,” she said, recalling her start in the city in 2010.
“There were 64 recommendations that I was asked to implement, and we had a two million dollar deficit. Municipalities can’t run deficits, so we had to figure out how we were going to remedy that. We also had a pool that was closed, and contracts with our union that had to be negotiated.”
Antoniak said it was a busy time, but through it she got to know her staff and how resilient and dedicated they are. She found out how positive and adaptable they are as they rose to the challenge of the changes that were occurring.
"They are really excited about advancing the vision of the city and customer service and adhering to the bottom line and looking for efficiencies,” she said.
Antoniak said the city’s budget process is quite unique, because an internal core review takes place every year.
"Every department presents to their management team and we look for efficiencies, we look for different ways of delivering that service, whether there are gaps in the budget or whether there are overlaps,” she said, noting that prior to that one area of the city or department didn’t know what the other was doing.
“Now the operation has been opened up to the entire team, and so it’s very much a bottom up budgeting process, zero based, rather than top down. It’s made a huge difference in how we communicate with each other as well as achieving that positive bottom line,” she said.
But her departure isn’t because she feels her work is done here.
"There’s a lot to do here," Antoniak said. "This is a fantastic city. It has incredible opportunities, but this other opportunity came up in an area that I really love doing. It’s sort of my forte, so to speak; what I enjoy doing."
Antoniak said the decision to move on wasn't an easy one. She had to take a serious look at it when the offer was made. She may be excited about her new opportunity and where she's going, but she's leaving behind a staff she describes as tremendous, and a council she said is great. She enjoys the community of Penticton so much, it's part of her future plans.
"At some point we will be back to retire here. This is our home now,” she said.
Antoniak spoke briefly about the controversy arising last year over a Penticton resident’s letters to the editor that spoke disparagingly of city staff, including Antoniak.
"I'm not an elected official, I’m part of staff, and we’re given direction by our council, and through that direction we move forward,” she explained. "So it’s really hard when you’re staff. Freedom of speech I totally agree with, but when it becomes personal, that’s when there’s a line."
Antoniak’s final day at city hall is Feb. 16.
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