AMHERST – Amherst is using the opportunity afforded by the upcoming retirement of two senior staff members to make some changes at town hall.
During its December meeting on Monday, council announced that both executive assistant Rebecca Purdy and Vince Arbring, the director of Corporate Services will be retiring in the coming months.
“Before we embark further on our budget process and with a year under our collective belts we have turned out minds to the optimal organizational structure that will help us sustain and improve our performance in a number of areas,” Mayor David Kogon told council. “We’ve consulted with our CAO, and together we have agreed on some changes that we feel will strengthen the organization now and in the future by recognizing good young talent within the organization and by eventually introducing new talent in areas where there is a need that cannot by addressed from within. I believe that these changes signal to our citizens that it’s not just business as usual and that we’re serious about improving our organization. I also believe that many of these changes signal to our present employees that opportunities for advancement exist even in a relatively small municipality such as ours.”
Effective Feb. 1, several positions are being eliminated including: the executive assistant to the CAO, the executive assistant to the planner position, the human resources co-ordinator, senior planner and accountant.
The positions of municipal clerk, deputy clerk, administrative assistant-clerk’s office, manager of land-use planning and strategic initiatives and manager of financial services will be created.
On May 1, the position of director of finance/Corporate Services will be eliminated upon Arbing’s retirement and the position of chief financial officer created.
The municipal clerk will report to the CAO and oversee governance and transparency, human resources and centralize the management of meetings of committees and council, municipal records and elections.
The financial services manager will assume a supervisory role for frontline Corporate Services staff and the chief financial officer will report directly to the CAO and be responsible not only for fiscal management and reporting but budgeting, billing and collection, procurement, risk management and claims and information technology. The CFO will also be responsible to design implement and monitor new programs to improve customer service and continuous business process improvement practices.
Finally, the new manager of land-use planning and strategic initiatives will take over responsibility for municipal planning issues and will manage and oversee work on the town’s strategic projects and priorities as well as special projects.
Sarah Wilson will become the financial services manager, Andrew Fisher will be the manager of land-use planning and strategic initiatives, Kim Jones will be the municipal clerk and Natalie LeBlanc the deputy clerk.
The net cost of these changes on an annual basis is estimated to be less than $2,000 and there is no net increase in full-time equivalent positions within the town.
“I appreciate the co-operative and collaborative manner in which this conversation and inward look took place,” CAO Greg Herrett told council. “Personally, and on behalf of the staff of the town, I’d like to say that the mutual trust and respect that exists in our relationship has only grown over the past year. Council’s patience through an obvious period of acclimatization and respect shown by all for the differing roles and responsibilities can be held up as a model for other municipal units.”