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Municipal organizational review defeated at council table again

Councillors push to complete governance review Councillor Kristi Wells tried for a second time to drum up support for an organizational review of municipal hall but was defeated again at Monday’s meeting.

Councillors push to complete governance review

Councillor Kristi Wells tried for a second time to drum up support for an organizational review of municipal hall but was defeated again at Monday’s meeting.

"It was the right time to try again," said Wells at the end of the meeting, even though her motion was defeated.

An organizational review would have taken a comprehensive look at how the municipality does business as well as reviewing the workload of its employees and staffing issues.

Her recommendation was first defeated less than one month ago with a tied council vote. Councillor Caroline Lamont was absent at that time.

But changes in recent weeks prompted Wells to pitch the idea again.

Wells said she was concerned that Bill Barratt’s recent appointment to deputy administrator has left a big hole in the senior management team, which has yet to be filled.

In addition, the municipality is in the process of acquiring a new business that could require additional staff, she said. Wells would not elaborate on this business deal other than to say the municipality has made an offer to purchase a company. The negotiations are continuing in closed meetings.

Her final argument was that the proposed governance review, which will look at the role of council and the municipal administrator, Jim Godfrey, appears as though it will not be completed until the spring because of the workload at municipal hall.

Wells had the support Monday of Councillors Marianne Wade and Gordon McKeever, just as she did the first time around.

Wade said an organizational review would be a "proactive" approach to some of the staffing concerns at the municipality.

Councillor Lamont recognized she was the tiebreaker vote at Monday’s meeting. She sided with Councillors Nick Davies and Ken Melamed and Mayor Hugh O’Reilly in voting against the organizational review.

"My belief is that it’s a little premature right now," she said after the meeting.

Lamont pointed to a number of things that are in the pipeline, like the Comprehensive Sustainability Plan and the 2010 Olympics, which could change the organization of municipal hall on their own accord.

"The sustainability plan... may drive a reorganization anyway, where departments are more integrated to ensure a more sustainable operation," she said.

Also, she said Godfrey is in the process of preparing a proposal on how the Olympics will be carried out administratively in relation to municipal hall. Lamont is waiting to get that report before voting for a comprehensive review of the organization.

She also touched on the idea that the municipality is looking to take on a more entrepreneurial approach in its business as a way to generate more revenue.

"There’s this whole initiative for government to be more entrepreneurial and there’s a whole need to understand if we go in that direction how that affects the structure as well," she added.

Though she did not support the motion for an organizational review, she could understand the concerns of her fellow councillors.

"(I) find there is a clear lack of firm policy that we can then give to the administration to make decisions," she said.

This lack of firm policy is something that could be addressed in the governance review.

Councillor Nick Davies also thought long and hard about having an organizational review, especially in light of the recent changes at municipal hall. But rather than go through an organizational review at this time, he said they should focus on completing a governance review sooner rather than later.

Godfrey said he will be involved in the governance review, along with a committee from council. They will also engage some outside consulting assistance to work with them to develop the governance model.

The model may not be presented to council for a couple of months, depending on how involved it gets.

"We haven’t put a time frame on it other than it’s a priority of council so they’d like us to move very, very quickly on it," he said.

"It takes time to do and there are certainly workload issues that have to be dealt with as well."