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Municipal staff 'overwhelmed'; council to undertake governance review



Wells’ motion to review organiztion of municipal hall defeated in tie vote

Councillors may be asking too much of municipal staff and will now undergo a governance review to examine how they conduct their business.

"I think the challenges of staff being overwhelmed fall at this side of the table," said Mayor Hugh O’Reilly at Monday’s council meeting.

"I think this (council) table has to be disciplined in what we try and do and ask our staff."

While Councillor Kristi Wells admits a governance review is a good thing, she said it doesn’t address some root issues at municipal hall in terms of staffing and structure.

She charged O’Reilly with glossing over the problem.

"I just don’t wear the rose coloured glass as often as you do," she said.

After the meeting Wells questioned why council would be asking more of staff and interfering with staff’s work.

"I figure the answer to that question is because, you know, we’re not quite satisfied with the job staff is doing," she said.

"If everything was coming forward really timely and perfect and all the rest of it, you’d just sit back and say ‘great.’

"But the point is... there’s some vacancies, staff is overworked... (it’s not that) they’re not capable, it’s just that things aren’t happening as fast as we’d like them to."

As such Wells tried to drum up support for a third-party organizational review of municipal operations at the meeting. It’s something she has been asking for in closed meetings throughout the past year.

Her motion, though supported by councillors Marianne Wade and Gordon McKeever, was defeated by a tied vote. Councillor Caroline Lamont was absent.

Local businessman John Nadeau who attended Monday’s meeting in part to see if there would be an organizational review, was hoping the motion would pass.

"I would have liked to have seen them slide it under the budget for 2004," he said.

Though he has no complaints about how staff conducts its business in his own experience, he sees the value in a review exercise.

"I think all organizations need to have people from the outside come in and have a look to validate what they’re doing," he said.

The organizational review would have looked at how the municipality as a whole conducts its business and would have identified and corrected any problems within the organization.

Wells said there is a general recognition that there is too much on the plates of senior staff members. It’s not that they can’t do their jobs but rather that they are being asked to do too much.

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