The Regional District of Central Kootenay is expected to increase its staffing by a handful of positions once it signs off on its 2013 budget next week.
The financial plan, which unanimously received three readings from the board today, calls for six new jobs that will cost up to a combined $442,000, including salary, benefits, software, and office set-up. The additions are based in part on recommendations from a consultant’s review of the organization.
The positions include a project manager, budget manager, accounts clerk, human resources technician, half-time parks planner, and half-time sustainability co-ordinator.
Chief financial officer Grant Roeland said the positions haven’t yet been posted, and existing staff will likely fill some of them. The additions also hinge on reorganization in senior management.
Roeland is leaving after this week to take the same position with the neighbouring Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. His replacement hasn’t been named, but Rod De Leeuw is filling in as manager of finance in the interim.
Corporate officer Dawn Attorp is also leaving in June and will be replaced by deputy corporate officer Anitra Winje. The shuffles come a few months after Brian Carruthers took over as chief administrator from the retiring Jim Gustafson.
Roeland anticipates the new budget manager won’t be hired until a decision is made on his soon-to-be-vacant position, but the new accounting clerk will help. “The volume of our invoices has grown 20 per cent over the past three years. We can’t keep up,” he said.
The full-time human resources technician will also deal with a growing backlog. “We currently have in excess of 300 full-time positions [including recreation centres] and only one dedicated HR position,” Roeland said. “If you look at any industry, you’ll probably see that we’re very short by comparison.”
He explained the project manager position was approved in 2012, but hiring was put off until this year. It will be paid primarily through the regional district’s waste management and water functions.
“That’s where our large projects are, specifically the transfer station,” Roeland said, referring to the impending move of the Nelson transfer station from the waterfront to a site a few kilometres west of town near Pacific Insight.
Roeland said the part-time sustainability and parks positions will probably be filled by moving around existing staff. Bylaw enforcement will also be beefed up with an additional full-time officer.
He said a corporate review completed last September by consultant Gord McIntosh identified “weak points” in the organization, “where we aren’t necessarily succeeding in meeting our obligations.”
Afterward, Carruthers, the chief administrator, did his own review to verify whether the staffing increases were justified.
“This is pretty well what [he determined],” Roeland said. “Were there more on the list? Absolutely, but this is the core. It’s the level the board felt was acceptable.”
One position considered but not included in this year’s budget was a deputy regional fire chief. It will be looked at again next year.
Finding room for the new hires is a challenge: the budget includes money for a space planner to reconfigure the Nelson head office.
Another major hit to the budget comes from the rollout of new accounting software at a cost of $1.2 million, spread over last year and this year’s budgets. The largest component is expected to be operational as of January 1.
Nelson Mayor John Dooley supported the budget, although he said it represented “quite a shift,” adding they are making “substantial” investments on the promise it will result in cost savings later on.
Dooley said the onus is now on the board to ensure those savings materialize. “We have a substantial increase in staff and costs. I hope our barometers show efficiencies, otherwise we’re staring down the barrel.”
Chair John Kettle said a first quarterly report is due next week, but he’s comfortable with the staffing increases as presented.
“We probably should have been smarter in the past and added some of these positions,” he said. “But we didn’t. We hedged our bets and said ‘Do we want to spend this?’ We didn’t and should have.”
Kettle said saving money through hiring freezes “may be good politics but it’s bad government. I’m comfortable we’re doing the right thing now.”
He told the board the overall budget increase of 1.14 per cent compared to 2012 is “well within the guidelines of good management.”
The budget is valued at $58.7 million, up from $58 million last year.
Today’s unanimous approval marked the third year in a row that it’s been passed without dissent. Final adoption is expected a week from today.