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County begins its restructuring plan

At tonight’s meeting, council will review a report from the chief administrative officer to approve a bylaw to authorize an early retirement incentive plan.
The plan is intended to encourage voluntary early retirement for long service employees, manage staff replacement and succession planning for the municipality.
CAO Merlin Dewing reports the plan is in-line with the practices of other local municipalities.
“We are proposing a one per cent across the board incentive payment whereas other municipalities have provided 1.5 per cent for longer service employees,” his report states.

The County has taken first steps in a multi-year restructuring plan. The Water and Wastewater department at 37 Church St., will be closed to the public and all billing and customer service will be moved to Shire Hall and the Edward Building.
The County, in a news release, said “a number of staff positions have been impacted by the realignment.” The release stated “while some positions have been eliminated, others have been created and existing staff will have access to new and different employment opportunities.”

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  1. Elizabeth Globe says:

    The Admin and reception at the Edward Building supports the Building, Planning, Public Works, By-law Enforcement and the Development office. With all those department there and the fact that most of them are having to accept fees that relate to their individual departments, yeah, I see being able to pay my applicable county fees there.

    Would seem kind of silly to have to apply for a permit for a garage or something at the Edward Building and then have to go to Shire Hall to pay for it. I had to get a permit last year and the receptionist is the one who took the fees. Nice lady too!

  2. Mark says:

    I wasn,t saying the retirement incentive was a good thing or bad thing, I just provided the math as I understand it.
    I am far more interested in getting an unbiased and professional staffing review completed. The days of duplication of services need to end. I would anticipate that if that was done, no longer would there be an admin position and a reception position in the Edward Building. No longer would there be an accounts payable position at both Shire Hall and the Edward. No longer would there be 4 roads supervisors to supervise roads that aren’t being repaired. The examples go on and on. I would say however I am strictly speaking of positions not persons as I realize this is most sensitive to the staff.

  3. Doris Lane says:

    Chris Keen is right on. This the County we do not care what other places are doing. We do not need a whole lot of chiefs ( asMarnie says) running this place
    Heritage in the county is a laugh there is hardly any heri.tage left
    The one truly heritage building is the northport cheese factory which no one mentions –maybe most people do not know what it is It is not far from Jim Taylors home and has not been altered since my father drew milk there some 65 years ago
    Oh well what is the use they even want to take down our hospital.

  4. Marie says:

    how about trying a 7% decrease for a few years?

  5. Gary Mooney says:

    Chris, I didn’t say a 7% tax increase. I said a 7% increase in the municipal tax levy — the total amount to be collected from taxpayers. If the number of households increases at 1% each year, then the tax increase would be 6%.

    Mark, re early retirement incentives, municipal government is doing what for-profit companies do — and that is to provide incentives for people nearing the traditional retirement age to retire, thereby allowing everyone below them in the pecking order to advance one position. and creating an entry level opportunity for younger people. It’s good policy.

    More generally, a number of people are criticizing County government for the current moves that they are making, based on inadequate information. I pay attention to what’s going on, and don’t feel that I have enough information to reach any specific conclustions.

    Personally, I have enough confidence in Peter Mertens and Merlin Dewing to expect that the changes that they are now making are going to result in more efficient and lower cost government. I base this on Peter’s considerable experience in corporate management and on observations of Merlin (and the fact that he was hired as a change agent and has no personal local loyalties).

    How about we give County government a chance to show what they can do, and evaluate them on results, not on expectations?

  6. Mark says:

    So the way I read it, if someone making $60,000 has 30 years service in 3 months from now and can on their own free will retire with pension and benefits the County will give them an $18,000 incentive package to encourage them to go.

  7. Chris Keen says:

    Just a thought that came to me when I read this:
    “CAO Merlin Dewing reports the plan is in-line with the practices of other local municipalities”.

    Perhaps that’s part of a problem that began with amalgamation. Over the years we’ve simply done what everyone else has done instead of looking for made in the County solutions which is what we would have done prior to amalgamation – solutions that meet our needs that we can afford.

    Amalgamation was supposed to simplify government and save taxpayers money. Well, we know how that turned out!! An average tax increase of 7% per annum over fourteen years is simply not sustainable.

  8. Doris Lane says:

    An interesting and thoughtful group of comments. I suggest that when you hit this section, your read all the comments as there are some very thought provoking statements. Too bad council does not have the same common sense that the ratepayers have.

  9. Gil says:

    Wud this be Mark W.???

  10. Beth says:

    Last time I checked, going away for 6 months in the winter is a choice. SAB are you saying the rest of us should pick up the portion of taxes for the time someone else is away?

    And with the population base being what it is, this may not be a city but we have the same number of residents as one. The roads and services are just spread out over a much greater area. This may be a small community, it just has a lot of people in it.

    Let’s have a review, just tell me, who is going to pay for it? Or is there a qualified individual or group of people, that anyone here knows, that would be willing to put in the hundreds of hours necessary to review the entire County Corporate structure, for no compensation at all?

    Just curious.

  11. Mark says:

    Virginia I can understand what you are saying. I think what people want to see is this municipal government to be accountable, do the due diligence and get the size of staff down, cut duplication of services and waste. When they do that the necessary evil of a tax increase is more palatble. I have been involved in staffing reviews prior and I know that the municipality have not done their work. And it’s not all the lowest paid union folks that need to be reviewed it’s the management as well. There is not a doubt in my mind that significant savings could be found if they had the gonads to do it. I have identified prior the duplication of positions. The fat cat managers won’t cut their departments and that is why we need an independent staffing review.

  12. virginia says:

    I guess we can call ourselves fortunate. We came here in the 80’s with almost nothing, except two young kids, and a car my husband had the use of from his new job. We rented for two years, saved “like sixty” and put a down payment on a house which needed a lot of work-a lot of if very basic. When we bought it, the taxes were listed at about 770.00 a year. They went up to about 1100, within a year or so, even though we were not yet in a position to get any work done. Now after 24 years, and a lot of improvements( but not all that are needed)our taxes are in the 1900 to 2000 range. the overall worth of the house and property has risen from low 70’s to the 200’s.
    Of course, no one likes taxes. But I do not consider them anything but a “necessary evil”, especially when one considers the services that are needed (by most people).
    My sister lives in northern Ontario in a small town with such a small tax base, that she pays more taxes than we do, on a house that is worth virtually nothing, since so few people wish to live in that particular place. By that standard, most of us are much more fortunate.

  13. Gary Mooney says:

    Tim, Rick Conroy has reported in the Wellington Times that the municipal tax levy — the net cost of County government payable by local taxpayers (excluding user fees for water and sewer, etc.) — has increased from $10.3 million in 1998 to $26.6 million in 2012.

    This represents an average increase of 7% per year over the 14-year period, way above the average CPI increase of about 2.5% per year over the same period, and not explained by population growth, which has been less than 1% per year. Whether you look at the 7% increase each year or the 3.5% excess increase per year, taxes have gone up a lot over 14 years.

    Regarding the MPAC assessment, County government does not benefit from increases in the total market value assessment (MVA). If the municipal tax levy remains the same as last year while the total MVA increases by (say) 8% from last year, the tax rate is reduced by 8% to compensate, in order to generate the same total amount of municipal tax revenues.

  14. Chris Keen says:

    http://www12.statcan.ca/census-recensement/2006/dp-pd/prof/92-591/index.cfm?Lang=E

    Google – a useful tool for finding answers to questions like the average income in the County.

    Unfortunately the data is from 2005 – the latest Statistics Canada has made available publicly.

    At that time, median income for men and women in the County was below the Ontario median.

    We are above the Ontario median for “government transfers” – I assume – E.I., CPP, OAS, welfare etc … as a percentage of total income.

    We are above the Ontario median for “other money” as a percentage of total income i.e. pensions, RRSP redemptions etc…

    Interesting … but out of date.

  15. Marnie says:

    Virginia, it would be difficult to provide an average figure but given that there are few plum jobs in the county and many people work one or more part-time jobs for minimum wage, any increase in our tax bills is sure to hurt a lot of local families. The county has a large number of senior citizens, a lot of them on fixed incomes. They are being forced to cover more and more expenses with no increase in their basic income. Those who retired to the county from large cities where they held high-paying jobs with indexed pensions and sold their homes for big prices, before buying here for much less, may not have a problem with tax increases, but bear in mind that the average county resident never earned that kind of money or a company pension plan. There are many county people who have never owned a home because they just could not afford it.

  16. Doris Lane says:

    NO ONE LISTENS
    COUNCIL JUST EXPECTS US TO PAY OUT HUGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY FOR SERVICES WE DO NOT NEED AND STAFF THAT IS TOO LARGE
    I read somewhere that the new CAO want s to have 3 deputy CAO’s to help him with his job–This is not the city-it is a very small community with not a whole lot going on.
    I own property on Gladstone where a new street was put last Fall, They soded it today and the supervisor told me I should water the new lawn every night. I told him I don’t have enough money to use town water for such a project. Town water is like liquid gold

  17. Paul says:

    Having ones cake and eating it too, comes to mind. Our little County has tried to grow to fast instead of the laid back approach that The County was famous for its “Become to big for it breeches”

  18. SAB says:

    Taxes have not been raised substantially, but we now have alot more monthly costs. Ex: Water, Sewage that was once included in our tax bill is now based on the amount of water we use…You go away for 6 months in the winter, when you use no water or sewage but you still pay a healthy junk each bill. Also garbage pickup. I am sure there are more, but what is the use of complaining, NO ONE IS LISTENING

  19. Doris Lane says:

    Regarding the phrase that Marnie used about too many superviors and not enough workers. In this county we have too many of both when it takes 5 men to cut a sapling tree,I could cut myself.
    It looks as if they have sourced out the soding on Maple this morning
    We should source out more work and the we would not have to buy trucks and pay salaries and benefits to too many workers

  20. virginia says:

    still waiting for average income of county residents…..

  21. Tim says:

    What people fail to mention, that while taxes haven’t been increased substantially in the past, i know as a county resident, my MPAC assessment on my house has increased considerably. This, along with expansion of our tax base through new construction, should have increased public funds for council. Mismanagement of funds is the root cause of the budget shortfall, along with the lack of accountability.

  22. Marnie says:

    My, aren’t we tightly wound, Virgina. FYI, I am part Mohawk and I have far more important things to do that file complaints of political incorrectness over references to chiefs and wampum. Why not drag your soap box into the park and campaign to get that old phrase Too many chiefs, not enough Indians bammed from the English language in which you hold a degree. And while you’re at it try to have Indian giver, firewater and on the warpath booted out as well.

  23. virginia says:

    Out of curiousity, just what is the average income of county residents?
    btw–in the interest of fighting racism of all kinds, you might like to know that the “chiefs..wampum” reference is offensive to many.

  24. Marnie says:

    Obviously, Beth, you have more money than the average county resident. I doubt that many other county taxpayers are begging Shire Hall to take even more tax dollars from them for fewer services. We all recognize the need to pay our share for essential services but council has spent a lot of money of late on big dollar initiatives that are not essential. It’s caught up with them and now there is not sufficient funding for road repairs etc. Council appears to be trying hard to cut expenses everywhere but in the obvious place. There are too many chiefs and not enough wampum.

  25. Mark says:

    @Beth

    I didn’t address the early retirement buyout. That is a whole other issue.

    I was speaking to duplication of services between Shire Hall and the Edward Building and an employee becoming his bosses boss under the Acting CAO Program. And last but not least how excellence at Shire Hall is evaluated,recognized and rewarded. With the current state of affairs I find it difficult to be recognizing achievements and adding more salary dollars to Commissioners and lower staff to take on the CAO”s job who is fully paid. And sucession planning only fits if those staff are capable with a track record. To date they have failed miserably.

  26. SAB says:

    It would seem that the tax payers have no say in anything that happens in the county…Many have expressed their opinions, but to no avail….I sure would like a job where I could set my own wages. When in business for one self, we have to make changes to meet customers need…It seems like the county hiarchy set their own needs without thought to the taxpayer

  27. Beth says:

    Why, because this is what is done. Instead of firing younger employees, the county is offering the employees who have been there a long time a chance to retire early. This save money as the long time employees are paid more than those who have not been there as long.

    Financial situation is worse because taxes were not raise to compensate for the increased basic costs. Roads were not fixed because the money was not there because the taxes were not raise because the residents of our fair county screamed.

    As our own personal bills go up, so does the county’s. Money has to come from somewhere people.

  28. Mark says:

    If the news report this morning is accurate, it stated that this action would result in zero change to staffing compliment. If that is the case then why the exercise? Why do we have accounts payable in both Shire Hall and the Edward Building? Is that not a duplication in service? Is there not a lot of duplication in administrative services between the two buildings?

    Also the CAO”s new “Acting CAO Program” which he has promoted to Council is posted on the County website. The employees accepted in the program are the Commissioner of Corporate Services, Commissioner of Public Works and Treasurer. It states because of excellent administrative efforts. Well the financial situation is a whole lot worse than when the Corporate Services person started in 2009. The roads are a whole a lot worse than when the Public Works person started in 2009. Waht is the standard for excellence at Shire Hall? And if the Treasurer reports to the Commissioner of Corporate Services then how can he be an Acting CAO who in turn would be overseeing his direct reports responsibilities? Hmmmm. Only in the County!

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