A new organizational structure for the Town of Amherstburg that aims to improve service delivery and “optimize” staff resources with zero net impact on the annual Budget was presented to Council Monday night by Interim CAO Tony Haddad.
The new structure builds on the findings and recommendations of a 2020 Service Delivery Review that concluded the Town had a “lower proportion of full-time staff compared to its peer comparators by approximately 15 per cent” and offered “lower than average salaries, wages and benefits as a percentage of operating expenses by approximately three per cent.”
There has been significant staff turnover since that report was prepared for Council, of course, which has placed additional stresses on the staff members who remain, wrote Haddad in a briefing note to Council.
“The current staff vacancies have placed a burden on remaining staff to cover duties in the absence of their colleagues to ensure service and program delivery expectations are being met. Stress and burnout levels are approaching unhealthy levels and have no doubt contributed to the recent departures of several staff; thus compounding the pressures on those remaining,” wrote Haddad.
“This most definitely is not a sustainable scenario for the Town. Remedial action must be taken to address this dilemma and return the Town to a level of sustainability that meets community expectations, supports Council and delivers the level of programs and services expected and reflected in the annual budget.”
The revised Organization Chart “reflects changes made among the various departments with some positions deleted and new positions added to reflect a more functional administrative organization to enhance and effectively administer program and service delivery” and comes with “no net impact on the annual budget.”
The new structure includes a Communication Officer jointly funded by the CAO’s Office and the Tourism Department, which reflects the hybrid role that has developed and worked so well since the onset of the pandemic. That position was recommended by the Service Delivery Review and the Economic Development Committee.
It also replaces a Clerk with a Director, Legislative Services & Clerk, which eliminates the need for a lawyer but requires the addition of a part-time paralegal position at a lower salary. It eliminates the Treasurer position as it bundles that responsibility into the position of Director, Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer.
The new structure does not include an Economic Development Officer for 2022 since that position would report to the new Director, Development Services. Recruitment is currently underway for the Director position and Haddad felt it made sense to wait until that position was filled, deferring the decision on the coordinator position to 2023.
Recruitment is currently underway for other senior positions including Chief Administrative Officer, Supervisor of Recreation and Programming, Deputy Treasurer, Manager of HR, Manager of Recreation and Manager of Facilities.
Recruitment has recently been completed for a Manager of Bylaw Enforcement and Director, Corporate Services, Chief Financial Officer.
Haddad’s report stressed it was increasingly difficult for municipalities to recruit qualified candidates and that it was important for employers to offer competitive salary and benefits packages and work-life balance arrangements, which many organizations introduced as a response to COVID-19 and intend to continue offering.
Haddad launched a refresh of the Town’s Compensation Plan in November and it is expected to be completed by February of 2022. The last review was done in 2017.