Tuesday, June 26, 2012



26 JUNE 2012

It was a tough day at city hall Monday as four city workers were given notice they’ll be losing their jobs.

Another two positions will be eliminated through retirement and one vacant post won’t be filled.

The seven job cuts were part of an organization shakeup at city hall that was anticipated.

Chief administration officer Chris MacPherson was appointed to his post with a mandate to take a look at the city’s organization structure and groom it for the years to come. It’s the first reorganization in 14 years and the first major job loss at city hall since the city’s amalgamation in 1973.

There was a job cut in the city administrator’s office, one from legal, two from human resources, one from tourism, one from community services, and there’s an administration position in the police department that won’t be filled.

“We felt those positions were surplus to our needs,” MacPherson said.

Fredericton Police Chief Barry MacKnight retires at the end of this week, but his post can’t be left vacant. Under the Police Act, the municipality must rehire for that job. Deputy police chief Leanne Fitch will be acting chief until a job competition is held and a candidate is hired.

“The process will be laid out in the next month or two in terms of how that will progress,” MacPherson said.

“We are in good shape right now, but we’re kind of looking to the future and we know our growth will slow down somewhat, so we’re just trying to change structurally to make those changes now before we have to. This was strictly about restructuring and regrouping,” he said.

MacPherson said he has grouped departments that work together. Building inspection and bylaw enforcement, for instance, becomes part of the a public safety department working alongside police and fire departments. Departments that sell the city and economic development and quality of life will be grouped together.

The number of city departments will be cut from seven to six.

Human resources director Joe Lumsden retires at the end of August and some of his workload will be shifted to the finance department. Services to employees, advice, hiring and training will be a separate department.

MacPherson talked to council, the business community and consulted internally with senior staff.

“A lot of the suggestions came from our own staff that wanted to see some changes. After 14 years it was time for some change and people expected some change,” he said.

While he tried to cushion the changes by turning to retirement and attrition, at the end of the day, four people will lose jobs.

MacPherson said departing employees will be offered counselling assistance and will receive legislated benefits and any retirement allowance to which they’re entitled.

“It’s tough. I’d like to think that the city was compassionate,” he said.

Woodside said MacPherson is fulfilling the mandate he was given to review and restructure.

“Today was unlike any that I’ve experienced because it was a good day and a not good day. I believe with all my heart in what Mr. MacPherson has done. He was hired not to just deliver the status quo ... I think this municipality has to retool, reorganized, be lean, be efficient. We’re dealing with taxpayer dollars and we have to give them the best bang for their buck and that’s precisely what we’re doing ... This is the right thing to do,” Woodside said.

The restructuring will streamline municipal government, improve how citizens receive services and meet the city’s needs into the future, Woodside said.

The city will now have the following departments:

• finance and administration;

• engineering and operations;

• community planning and development;

• public safety;

information, improvement and innovation;

• and strategic direction and internal consulting.

The finance and administration department will be responsible for the city’s pension file. Purchasing, payroll and real estate divisions will move to the department under director Tina Tapley. Alicia Keating becomes the new assistant director, with responsibility for the new financial strategy division.

Fire and police services will now come under the new department of public safety, which will include the safety and bylaw enforcement division. Wayne Tallon becomes director of the new department.

Fredericton Transit, parking services, fleet, and property services will become part of the engineering and operations department under director Murray Jamer, who was also recently appointed assistant chief administrative officer.

The new department of information, improvement and innovation will handle information technology, the 9-1-1 communications centre, internal communications and innovation projects. Maurice Gallant becomes the director of this department.

Jane Blakely is the director of the new department of strategic direction and internal consulting. The department will include strategic planning and consulting under assistant director Alex Forbes, along with sustainability and labour relations and staffing divisions.

The new department of community planning and development, under director Frank Flanagan, will include recreation and social facilitation; parks and trees; community planning; and building inspection.

The new tourism, economic development and external communications division, under assistant director David Seabrook, will include tourism, sport tourism, culture, economic development, and external communications.

The new structure becomes effective July 15, although MacPherson said it will take several months to fully implement. A transition team will be formed to facilitate the changes.

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