Councillor Kristi Wells calls the move a band aid solution
Long-time municipal employee Bill Barratt has been hand picked to fill a brand new position at municipal hall: deputy administrator.
Barratt, the general manager of community services, will now oversee the day-to-day operations of the municipality in his new role, leaving administrator Jim Godfrey to stay focused on key high level priorities.
"This isnt the first adjustment that weve made to our senior team since Ive been mayor and Jims been here," said Mayor Hugh OReilly, after last weeks announcement.
"This is probably a more significant one in many respects because it really speaks to the need of the administrator to be really focused right now on these key objectives... the Olympics, (provincial) relationships, financial tools. Those things are taking lots of attention and time and those are key priorities of council."
The creation of a deputy administrators position has been in the cards since the summer, particularly after the 2010 Olympic announcement on July 2, said OReilly.
Godfrey chose Barratt to fill the position of deputy administrator to manage some of the workload of the administrators position. Barratt will bring 20 years experience at municipal hall to the job.
His first job for Whistler was as a construction foreman of the Valley Trail system. He then moved up to director of Parks and Recreation, overseeing the development of venues like the Meadow Park Sports Centre, Rainbow Park, Spruce Grove Park, and the skateboard park.
He also assumed the role of Interim Administrator for about a year during the mid-nineties when the previous administrator left.
"It was challenging," he said, thinking back.
"I was basically sort of steering the ship until they found a replacement. I had no interest at the time in taking on that position.
"For the experience it was great."
Now he is looking forward to the challenge of managing the daily operations at municipal hall, with the general managers of operational and service divisions reporting directly to him.
"Change is good and were heading into a pretty exciting period in our community, certainly with the Olympics coming and the CSP (Comprehensive Sustainability Plan) process," he said.
"So theres a lot going on and you know, I love this place. Its such a fantastic place to live and work.
"I feel sort of blessed to have had that opportunity to have been here and seen Whistler change over the years so, Im really looking forward to it quite frankly."
The new position marks the first time Whistler has ever had a deputy administrator. It is a salaried position, unlike the administrators position, which is under contract for a specified time. Godfreys contract will come up for renewal in March after seven years on the job.
Not all council members are pleased with the creation of a deputy administrators position at this time.
Councillor Kristi Wells calls the position a "band aid solution" to the increasing workload at the municipality. She has been calling for an overall organizational review of municipal hall that could iron out staffing issues in light of the work that will come from the Olympics and the CSP, among other things. This review would allow council to be proactive instead of reactionary when it comes to filling staffing holes, Wells contends. She called the new deputy administrators position a reaction to the administrators workload.
"That doesnt mean (creating a deputy administrators position is) a bad reaction," said Wells, adding that Barratt is qualified for the job of deputy administrator.
"Its just... it wouldnt have taken much to wait a couple of months (for an organizational review) and make sure it was the right position."
Her motion for an organizational review was defeated at the last council meeting when three of the six council members present voted in favour and three voted against.
"I still think its a band aid solution and were not looking at things comprehensively enough," she said.
Wells also raised concerns about finding the right replacement to fill Barratts shoes as general manager of community services. In that position he was responsible for the supervision of Bylaw Services and Fire Rescue Services as well as the liaison with the local RCMP detachment. He was also manager of Parks and Recreation and sponsorship. This unique role was created two years ago in part to lessen the number of general managers reporting to the administrator.
"There are very few municipalities, if any, that have fire, police, bylaw and parks under one director," said Wells.
"That was a job that was suited to the individual. Bill was very capable of it.
"But now, how do we fill Bills position?
"I doubt it can be one person."
Still, Mayor OReilly rejects the notion that the deputy administrator role is a band aid solution to increasing workload.
"I think this is a very solid move in a very senior position," he said.
"You dont make band aid appointments like that."
The mayor added that the municipality will be able to respond to the needs and demands of the Olympics as they become clearer down the road.
In the meantime the mayor supports a governance review, which will look at councils responsibilities, their relationship with staff and the role of the administrator.
"What the governance really does is everyone agrees to the environment that youre going to work in," he said.
"I think the most important thing we can do right now is do this first step."
The governance review will get underway after an experienced third party is found to help them go through the process.