Tasked with implementing operational review
If city council is the puppet master, maneuvering the strings on Corner Brook is a delicate process.
That is similar to the description provided by Mayor Charles Pender as he discussed the ongoing developments with the organizational and operational review.
Council and staff met with consultants from KPMG last month, getting their first glimpse at the recommendations compiled in the draft report. With some tinkering, a final report is now being established. It could be available for public viewing by October, said the mayor.
Many, if not all the current council, campaigned and were elected with an attitude of change. It is what the people wanted, the mayor said Wednesday, and it is what they are trying to implement.
“It is like pulling on 10,000 threads at the same time,” he said. “You can only pull on so many at a time, and so far, hoping it all ends up creating that lean and very efficient, public-service oriented organization.”
Mike Dolter, the city’s chief administrative officer for more than eight years, was terminated by council in June. Pender said there will not be any single major changes to come as a result of the review, especially with respect to staff.
“This was not a job reduction exercise or anything like that,” Pender said. “It is how do we do things better with the resources we have.”
There were some 40 recommendations in the draft report. Although particular staff or positions may not be in jeopardy, the mayor said it appears there will be some restructuring of departments and personnel to increase efficiency.
The implementation of the report will be the responsibility of the city’s new manager. A request for proposals is being finalized to fill that position being served on an interim basis by Dale Park. That could be released as early as Monday.
Pender said the goal is to have the head managerial position filled by January. The position will come with a shorter contract, allowing for continual review and assessment, according to the mayor.
There was a freeze on hiring or filling vacant positions as the review transpired. As certain directions are determined, council has been, and will continue to, filling those or restructuring them in some way.
The review was not entirely focused on human resources, but also a way to improve efficiency. Pender said many residents complained about processes around acquiring permits and/or approvals. He said there has been improvements, and expects further progress in that regard.
The review was a comprehensive one, and included elements of the operation of the Pepsi Centre and its fire department — one of its largest budget items. The mayor said discussions pertaining to the fire department revolved around such issues as industry standards.
The city has recently re-acquired operation of the Pepsi Centre and some changes have already been implemented. The facility is expected to remain under its current managerial structure — with the additional investment in security and maintenance previously announced — for an eight-12 month period. Pender expects future developments in operating and programming, but said revenue flow will likely determine that.