News » Whistler

muni consultant

Consultant Mel Shelley’s report on council-staff relations and the organizational structure of municipal hall will further redefine the relationship between mayor-council and the administrator and give department heads a greater voice. The results of Shelley’s four-month study were released last week. The three-page summary table lists 10 issues, suggested courses of actions for each issue and 12 specific recommendations — all but one of which Mayor Ted Nebbeling says council has accepted. The lone item council rejected was a statement that council was an organization that worked from the top down. Council says it works from the bottom up, responding to concerns of the community — the monitoring program being an example. A revised statement will be formally accepted by council at its May 6 meeting. The report reinforces council’s earlier policy statement that the role of the administrator and his relationship to council and to staff be further defined. That policy statement, released in February, is one of the courses of action suggested in Shelley’s report. Among the key recommendations in the report are that: o a special bylaw be created to outline the duties and responsibilities of the administrator’s position. o that the administrator’s performance be reviewed by the entire council each year. o a senior management committee, including department heads and the administrator, be formalized to act as an advisory body to the administrator. o that the new administrator establish a separate human resources officer position as part of the administrator’s office. o that the administrator’s position be a limited term (five years) personal services contract. o that a process for dealing with disagreements between the administrator and a department head on reports to council be adopted. o that an organizational performance evaluation process be created. o that the administrator and municipal clerk no longer sit beside the mayor in council chambers, but with other staff. o that the acting administrator report to council by July 1 on an appropriate separation of the mayor and administrator’s office location. Despite the specific limitations Shelley’s recommendations and the earlier policy statement by council place on the position of administrator, Nebbeling rejected suggestions former administrator Peter Kent and some members of council acted on their own agenda. "Shelley feels there is a perception that the administrator is part of council," Nebbeling said. "It’s really a perception thing, which I suppose can create a problem." Nebbeling said there were never any accusations levelled, "but Shelley seems to feel it’s important (to separate the administrator from council)." He said the office of the administrator will be moved from its present location adjacent to the mayor’s office "so that the administrator doesn’t appear to be a watch dog you have to pass on your way to the mayor’s office." Kent resigned last month after nearly 10 years as municipal administrator. He had been on stress leave since December. As for Shelley’s recommendation that a process for dealing with disagreements between the administrator and a department head on reports to council be adopted, Nebbeling said reports had "never been altered" at Kent’s insistence. "From time to time a department head might make a suggestion on the direction something should be heading that the administrator would reject. "Usually they would find a common ground and the administrator would bring the report to council. Shelley found that that wasn’t always the case," Nebbeling said. Under the new system, if there is a dispute both the administrator and the department head will be allowed to present reports to council "It’s very important to the department heads," Nebbeling said. The municipality is looking for an administrator to replace Kent. While councillors and many municipal staff members endorse Shelley’s recommendations there has been some concern that limiting the administrator’s position to five years may discourage some well qualified applicants for the job.