The City of Revelstoke has announced a sweeping overhaul to city administration and services, including staff reductions, realignment of duties and responsibilities amongst city departments and a review of city services.
The major changes were announced on June 5.
Here are some specifics:
– Director of Engineering Mike Thomas will assume an expanded role, replacing the recently departed planning director John Guenther. Thomas’s position will be Director of Engineering and Development and he will oversee engineering, building inspection, planning and development services.
– Engineering, planning and building inspection services will be located on the lower level of city hall.
– Bylaw enforcement will now be an administration department responsibility, not the planning department.
– The city will create a new communications position/corporate administration position.
– The city plans to eliminate several positions, but hasn’t specified which ones. Some of these positions will result in new, integrated positions.
– The city plans to review public works with the view of making the department more efficient.
– The bylaw creation process will be seated in the administration department; for the past several years, the lion’s share of new bylaws were generated and driven by the planning department.
– The city plans to physically overhaul the city hall building. In addition to the long-planned upgrade to the stucco envelope, a new service entrance will be added on Second Street. It will be accessible to those with mobility challenges.
In an interview with the Times Review, City of Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer said the changes are designed to improve customer service, create a more efficient organization, improve communications and focus on core services.
(Story continues below audio interview with City of Revelstoke Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer.)
He said the city has drifted away from its core services and had become bureaucratic and inefficient, creating “significant frustration” amongst its clients.
“By realigning and integrating the departments we’ll save a lot of duplication in labour that was occurring. Coming with that will also be improved customer service,” Palmer said.
He added the changes will also lead to streamlined internal processes. “By realigning and integrating the departments we’ll save a lot of duplication in labour that was occurring. Coming with that will also be improved customer service,” Palmer said.
“What we’ve recognized today and what I think council has heard from the citizens is we want really good day-to-day processing of applications and … services.”
Palmer said the public had disengaged from a city hall preoccupied with “endless” and “ambiguous long-term planning initiatives.”
Mayor David Raven said the changes are in response to several pressures. “Council is committed to these proactive steps to address our debt, infrastructure deficit, and business sector demands to reduce tax increases,” he said. “It is also a favourable time for our employees to take advantage of change to improve their workplace environment. This is more about the creation of opportunities to improve than the reduction of services.”
CAO Tim Palmer said the new development services focus didn’t mean undoing years of community input and planning processes.
He said the city was dealing with a changed reality from the early days of Revelstoke Mountain Resort development and was trying to reflect that.
“We recognize that the magnitude of the development isn’t quite what was envisioned in 2007 and 2008 and this is an appropriate time to pause and make sure we’re protecting those long-term interests of the residents.” He said the restructuring at city hall reflected this change of pace. The city will “pause and think about how fast we’re going with this.”
He said the overhaul will also focus on public works services, looking to create efficiencies and save in that department.
Palmer didn’t have specific targets for savings. He said the city plans to meet a recent city council objective of $160,000 in savings via an internal operations review, but couldn’t put a target on the overall total, adding it would be “quite significant on the money side.”
The savings will come from staff reductions and position amalgamations, reductions in contract services and operational efficiencies, Palmer said.
City officials are in discussion with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 363, the union that represents city employees.
Palmer said the changes had created anxiety amongst staff, but he also saw “genuine optimism amongst staff that these are going to be positive changes.” He said some of the staff reductions would come through attrition and retirements, adding the savings to the city would be “significant” despite costs associated with reducing staff.
UPDATE: June 6, 12 p.m.
Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce supports city restructuring
The Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce issued a statement supporting the restructuring approach taken by the City of Revelstoke, saying the chamber board hoped the changes will lead “to improved customer experience and reduce operating costs.
“We appreciate the time and effort that Tim [Palmer] and his team have put into this restructuring plan,” the Chamber board stated in a June 6 media release. “We are pleased with the changes in the approach of planning initiatives to ‘building and development’ to ensure ‘efficient processing of day to day applications.'”
They said it showed a commitment on behalf of city council to take, “proactive steps to address our debt, infrastructure deficit, and business sector demands to reduce tax increases.”
UPDATE: June 6, 2 p.m.
Greg Ingram is the national representative for CUPE. He told the Times Review he’s scheduled to meet with city officials on the afternoon of June 6, and didn’t have further information or comment on the situation at this point.
Ingram said CUPE wasn’t yet aware of the numbers of layoffs, reassignments or other staff changes. He said the union first heard of the changes late last week.
He said he’d be back in touch with the Times Review once CUPE had met with city officials.
Here’s the City of Revelstoke’s June 5 media release detailing the overhaul: