Mayor’s thoughts on staffing

Mayor’s thoughts on staffing As the Mayor Sees It Bill Humphreys

As the title of this column says the statements made here are as I see things. While others may agree with me I make no assumptions that they do.

When a municipality is incorporated it becomes for want of a better or shorter description a legal entity much the same as an incorporated company. This is not absolutely true but for a simple working idea it is close enough.

The management of the municipality or town or city is done somewhat like a company. A board of directors or in the case of a municipality a council is elected as the senior management team.

The senior management team, the council, then hires a chief administrative officer. The CAO is tasked with hiring required staff to run the municipality. How can the municipality be run without staff? Positions need to be created and the work given out.

Once the need for staff is identified there arises a requirement for procedures, policies, bylaws and the like to be established to give direction to the running of the municipality and to the employees. One of these tasks is to create job descriptions.

Properly crafted job descriptions benefit both the employee and the employer. The employee has a right to know what is expected of them. Setting proper descriptions of job duties and applying reasonable metrics to those duties serves both parties well. Otherwise how can an employee know if they are doing a good and proper job? Conversely how can an employer properly direct the employee to attain expected goals if the goals are not clearly stated?

Within all job description there should be a statement along the lines of “and duties as assigned.”  This allows the latitude for the employer and the employee to agree to fill a need that is temporary but pressing. This is exceptionally important in very small workforce situations.

There is a need in some cases to hire temporary employees. This would be to do work that is not full time but perhaps reoccurs each year. In my opinion this work opportunity should be posted and new applicants invited to apply as the need arises. Currently the laws in British Columbia do not force any employer, municipalities included, to follow this procedure.

Some small employers and municipalities say that they want to rehire employees year after year because the previous employees are the best fit for the job.

How do they know this to be true? Perhaps there is a person that would apply that has more experience, is willing to adapt to the varied needs of the employer and so on. Unless the job is posted the potential employee will never get the chance to prove their worth.

In some cases the previous employee may be the best fit. However, it is simply bad management practise to not always be looking to improve the efficiency of your company or municipality. The only way to achieve this is by constantly and consistantly looking for improvements in methods and quite possibly staff.

What drives the creation of a job position temporary or permanent in a municipality is the budget. If there is no money in the budget for the position it simply does not exist. In the example of a temporary position it is never a given that the position will be there year after year.

There is another budget meeting on Monday, March 26th at 7 p.m. This is the last budget meeting that allows input from the council and the public. This input will drive decisions on what will happen here in Barriere for the next year. If you cannot attend please make your ideas known to any member of council or the mayor.

On another topic the co-chairs of the Public Works committee have decided to split the duties into two parts due to the anticipated workload ahead. Councillor Kershaw will take on the tasks of the water and sewer portion as the primary chair and Councillor Stamer will chair the roads portion.

Councillors Kershaw and Stamer are well suited to either role but by agreeing to split the responsibilities there will greater opportunity for focus on what are two different yet related tasks. I am pleased that they came up with a mutually agreed upon plan for success. Cudos to both of them for innovative thinking.

The District of  Barriere takes over the maintenance of our roads next year. We are now into breakup conditions. I would ask that operators of large commercial vehicles be aware of the damage caused by operating large vehicles on District roads and parking on the roadside.