July 13th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 28
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Councillors weigh in on new managerial hiring
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
While the municipal tax levy is rising almost every year, an increasing percentage of the budget is going to pay for the salary of its employees.
In 2016 the total tax levy was about $7 million. Ninety-three per cent of it or about $6.5 million was spent on salaries, benefits and wages.

The municipality has about 115 employees. This number includes all union, non-union, full and part-time workers.

However, municipal administration is recommending the hiring of two new managers.

The manager of utilities and manager of development and trades will help the community implement a ten-year capital plan.

Are the hires a good idea?

The Pass Herald interviewed several council members to find out.

Councillor Dean Ward

For all my time in municipal politics, I have opposed increasing the size of our management team. In my mind we had ample numbers of managers. If that were still the case, moving ahead into 2017, I would still be taking that same position.

But 2017 is going to be different. For the first time we are going to see growth! Does anybody remember the last time the municipality built anything? It was the Crowsnest Pass Sports Complex in Coleman in the late 1970's. That was 45 years ago.

If all goes to plan, 2017 will see a new pool opening for Canada Day. We are tendering out major upgrades for the Coleman Sportsplex and the MDM. We will be seeing a new seniors’ lodge going up and two phases of the sewer plant upgrade taking place. Traffic lights are being installed at the intersection of Tim Horton's and Highway 3.

These projects alone will put $30 million of investment into our community in one year. In addition to that, we may well be seeing the development of a new golf course and a lot of preparation for the Riversdale mine.
continued below ...
With this kind of growth happening in one year do things need to change? I think so. Hopefully the growth will continue into 2018 and there will be still be three more phases of the sewer plant.

Will we be looking at other initiatives that create more jobs? I've always been open to that as long as they pay for themselves and don't increase our taxes. This year we created four positions for the Firesmart Program, which appears to be doing very well for us and seems like a very prudent move after what we saw in Fort McMurray this year.

Councillor Bill Kovach

Council has been asking this very same question for the past three years. We have also asked administration to find efficiencies within the organization without reducing services or increasing taxes (a tall order). Besides administering our own bylaws, which are becoming increasingly more time consuming, we are adhering to ever changing legislative demands.

An example of this would be our Quality Management Plan and Safety Codes Division. Another example would be our Waste Water Treatment system where we've just received grant funding to move ahead with two phases of the mandated five phases that will upgrade our system to meet present environmental standards. Most importantly we’re making sure our drinking water is bacteria free and our wastewater discharge into the Crowsnest River meets provincial standards.

I pondered at length as to whether or not adding to our existing management was the proper thing to do. However, after being presented with efficiencies in both the operation and the budget, I now believe administration's request is workable. For example, in the Development, Engineering and Operations Department we are reducing (not eliminating) lead hands from five to two. With regards to the taxpayer council was adamant that any movement within the existing work force has to be carried out under our present budget with no impact to the taxpayer. This has been achieved in their proposal.
continued below ...
It is also interesting to back up a little to remember this community used to have a Recreation Director, an Economic Development Officer and a Ski Hill Manager. All of these positions have been consolidated into the Director of Community Services. Again, hiring the part time manager to assist the director in this department has not affected the present budget.

I am pleased council and administration are looking at ways to improve services, ways to find efficiencies and ways to stream line our organizational chart to achieve the best possible results from our work force.

Shar Cartwright

Council has been encouraging our administration to increase efficiencies within each department and is going into a reorganization process in efforts to streamline operations which will result in increased efficiencies throughout the municipality, including reducing costs.

The re-organization will assist the municipality to move into the future proactively instead of reactively. The benefit to the taxpayer is that there should be quicker response times (and ultimately a reduction in the number of complaints).

Not only are large projects commencing, which include the Frank Waste Water Treatment Plant, the pool project, MDM repair work and Crowsnest Pass Sportsplex repairs, but there is also ongoing work with Alberta Environment and Alberta Transportation.

Due to the immense size of the projects and the dollars involved, they require oversight by our staff to ensure they are completed on time and on budget.
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July 13th ~ Vol. 85 No. 28
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