muni relations 

Council moved to define the lines of communication within municipal hall this week, releasing policy statements on the council-staff relationship and council’s role in governing. The two policies were developed on the recommendation of Mel Shelley, the consultant hired by the municipality last December. At that time administrator Peter Kent had gone on stress leave and many staff members had grown frustrated with their jobs, at least in part due to the pressures of Whistler’s explosive growth. Kent remains on stress leave. "These policies define the roles of the parties, their positions, how to communicate and procedures for specific issues," Mayor Ted Nebbeling said Wednesday. The two policy statements were presented to staff at a meeting Tuesday afternoon. Municipal hall closed early Tuesday so staff could attend the meeting with Shelley. Shelley has been meeting in confidence with staff members for the past two months. His final report is expected by March 20. Nebbeling believes one of the recommendations will be the creation of a human resources or facilitator position within municipal hall. The policy statement on council-staff relations emphasizes the position that, in a council-administrator system, council directs the organization through the municipal administrator. Six points further define the relationship. They are in part: 1. Council directs the municipal administrator to achieve goals and objectives which are set by council. 2. The municipal administrator interprets council’s policies. 3. Council as a whole — rather than individuals — directs the municipal administrator. 4. The municipal administrator is council’s single official link to the operating organization and as such the administrator’s performance will be considered synonymous with the performance of the organization as a whole. 5. The administrator’s performance may be evaluated against the goals and objectives set by council and the duties specified in the job description. 6. Council will review the administrator’s performance annually by Oct. 31. Council’s role in the council-administrator system was also defined. That policy says in part: 1. Council is the strategic body. It creates a vision for, and provides strategic direction to, the organization. 2. Council is the policy-making body. It sets goals and objectives for the organization to achieve. 3. Council follows an annual planning cycle. Each year council is to create new goals/objectives which state the outputs for the organization to achieve. 4. Council answers to the community. It endeavours through Town Hall and community meetings to understand and be responsive to community concerns. 5. Council monitors its own adherence to its role and activities. 6. The mayor is the conscience of council and ensures that the council’s actions are consistent with these policies, and that council minimizes discussion of administration-related issues. 7. Council is a collective body. The mayor is one member of council and cannot make decisions on behalf of council. The mayor has no individual authority to supervise or direct the municipal administrator. 8. Council committees are advisory bodies to council. Committees are not created to help staff and have no authority over staff. 9. Council’s Code of Conduct. Loyalty is to the Resort Municipality or Whistler as a collective, not to any advocacy or interest group. Individual members of council cannot try to exercise any individual authority over the municipal administrator, staff members or any part of the organization. 10. Council meets in a workshop format shortly after each election to inform and assist any newly elected members in understanding their responsibilities, role and relationship with the administrator and staff. "Communication was a main part of the problem," Nebbeling said. "We felt that by spelling it out — how to communicate — that would ease some concerns." Finance Director Drew Stotesbury has been acting administrator during Kent’s stress leave, but Stotesbury announced last week he was resigning May 1 to take a position in the private sector. Nebbeling said Wednesday the municipality can’t afford to run without an administrator. Shelley will talk with Kent about coming back but added staff will have to feel comfortable with Kent. "An administrator will be in place soon," Nebbeling said.

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