Municipal staff feel pressure
"It’s been a busy year, there’s been a lot of stress, and quite frankly some people cracked."
That’s Mayor Ted Nebbeling’s assessment of the current situation at municipal hall that finds Administrator Peter Kent on stress leave, Bylaws Superintendent(?) Calvin Logue on an extended leave and saw Fire Chief Tony Evans handed a five-day suspension.
The Canadian Union of Public Employees is also trying to organize employees in the Bylaws department and the wastewater treatment plant. A Labour Relations Board hearing on the union’s application for certification began last Friday and resumes Dec. 15.
"The big problem has been pressure, from many fronts," Nebbeling says of staff at municipal hall. "It’s not because of the growth but it’s related to the growth we have had.
"In general, in all departments, there’s a feeling of... not burnout, but like burnout."
The municipality is bringing in a counsellor to talk with staff during what Nebbeling calls a healing period.
"We need to take a breather, see where the problems are," he says.
Nebbeling says of Kent: "He, in a sense, exemplifies the problem. Every issue comes to him. The magnitude of the problems put stress on him."
Nebbeling adds that Kent wanted council to be more active in dealing with municipal staff, but says council’s job is to set policy.
The Administrator’s job includes dealing with department heads and the staff relations committee. Nebbeling says one of the problems was that the Administrator’s decisions didn’t always get passed along to all staff.
In Kent’s absence Finance Director Drew Stotesbury has assumed most of the Administrator’s responsibilities, including overseeing the Bylaws department.
Evans has served his suspension and is back at work. However, his duties have been reduced from Public Safety Director, in charge of both the Fire and Bylaw departments, to Fire Chief.
"It’s clear now the Fire and Bylaw departments are too big to be under one person," Nebbeling says. "Tony is back to what he was hired for, to be fire chief."
Nebbeling says an announcement on Logue will be made by Dec. 18.
"The bottom line is to make sure all the people in the municipal hall continue working in partnership," he says.