City hall has streamlined operations.
The City of Nanaimo’s latest corporate structure was presented to councillors and members of the public at Monday’s council meeting at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
The integration will see civic functions fall under four primary categories. Chief administrative officer Tracy Samra heads the CAO’s office and public services, chief financial officer Victor Mema heads corporate services and chief operating officer Brad McRae is in charge of public safety.
Of note, economic development will now fall under the community development department, to be overseen by Samra.
The CAO explained to council the rationale behind the latest changes to city departments, pointing to a focus on integration and centralization.
“There’s a lot of reasons, first and foremost is the modernization of the corporate structure, to eliminate the silos and overlapping functions,” she said. “And the core services [review] validated that this is something that needed to be done.”
Under the new model, public services includes community development, engineering, public works and parks and recreation. The city has identified a need to hire a new director of engineering and public works.
The CAO’s office includes legislative services and human resources, and city clerk Sheila Gurrie will be taking on communications duties.
The COO’s public safety focus covers bylaw enforcement, police, fire and emergency management files.
The CFO’s corporate services duties include finance, information technology, facilities and fleet, as well as supporting all other departments.
Samra said the restructuring completes organizational changes that began in 2015 with the elimination of general managers and continued in 2016 with the creation of the CFO and COO positions and other adjustments.
“We arrived at this after periodically reflecting on changes that were happening and the pressures that were before our organization and some lessons learned…” she said. “We’re happy with this final phase of reorganization and are going to start focusing on our next steps.”
Samra went on to present to council statistics on turnover within city management.
“There’s been increased media coverage on the exempt staff turnover by the local media and what I find interesting is it’s sort of unprecedented for council to be commenting on that publicly. That could be kind of what moves the media coverage on it,” she said.
She said human resources statistics from the last 10 years show that the exempt staff turnover rate has decreased, not increased.
City management staff has seen a turnover of seven people in 2017, compared to 12 in 2016, eight in 2015, 12 in 2014 and 11 in 2013.
Three management staff have been dismissed so far in 2017, compared to zero in any of the previous 10 years. Two have resigned this year and eight last year, compared with 10 resignations total over the five years prior to that.
Samra and human resources director John Van Horne suggested there are several reasons exempt staff might move on – retirement, lifestyle choices, organizational realignment, new city managers, new mayors and councillors, or professional opportunities.
“When you’re looking to get a promotion, that promotion might not be available to you in your current operation and we have had staff who have left and gotten a promotional opportunity elsewhere,” Van Horne said. “Sad to see them go, but happy for them if that’s what they wanted in their career.”