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County predicts eventual $1.2 million savings from realignment phases

The County has completed a review and rationalization of existing management positions as part of phase two of its corporate realignment process.

“The structural changes identified in phases one and two of the realignment process will create significant financial benefits for the municipality, eventually resulting in nearly $1,220,000 of annual savings through reduction in salaries and benefits,” said Mayor Peter Mertens, in a press release. “These savings will be realized over time as realignment changes are implemented.”

To date, 34 positions have been or will be eliminated, while 26 positions have been, or will, be created.

The release states the County will “minimize the realignment’s impact on employees through early retirement initiatives, attrition, and employee reassignment. While the goal of the realignment is a more efficient and effective organization, the County will strive to ensure that existing resources, knowledge, and skillsets will not be lost.

“Phase two changes will support realignment activities that have occurred to date, including the progression to a two commission structure, evolving Water and Wastewater to become two service areas, integrating Recreation, Parks and Culture and Planning and Building services into the remaining two Commissions, and creating the Community Development Commission and department” said Mertens. “Each of these steps brings us closer to our goal of a brighter future for the County, contributing to the creation of a streamlined and sustainable municipality with effective customer service delivery.”

Other changes planned in phase two of the realignment include the combination of Ameliasburgh and Sophiasburgh Roads garages on an Ameliabsurgh site. Staff in the Finance Department that do not work directly with the public will move to the Edward Building, along with former Recreation, Parks, and Culture employees, allowing the County’s King Street property to become available for repurposing. As phase two of the realignment is finalized, the Community Development Department will be relocated to Shire Hall.

Shire Hall will remain the payment centre for property taxes, water and wastewater bills, provincial offences fines, parking tickets, and marriage and lottery licenses. Dog Tags and burn permits will continue to be sold at public libraries and other municipal facilities including Shire Hall.

The next level of the corporate realignment will finalize the structural/staffing assessment and associated recommendations, with a target completion date of October 2012.

“Following the finalization of the new corporate structure, the realignment will continue to address the need for sustainable business practices for the County, including but not limited to improved policies, procedures and financial strategies,” the release stated.

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  1. Gary Mooney says:

    Doris, you’ve been advocating cutting spending, but when they do, you think that it’s not going to happen. Why not at least wait and see?

    Re complaining, one person’s complaint is not going to result in changes — why should one person’s opinion get attention over all the others. But if many people voice the same complaint, maybe attention is warranted.

    Better still, along with the complaint, why not offer a better alternative, Complaints are easy; solutions are hard.

  2. Doris Lane says:

    All the savings from the re alignment stuff I think is a pipe dream–everyone we get rid of gets a bonus or something and then if all the new people get a salary like I hear Merlins gets where is the money coming from. The people that work for the County are lucky all the benefits they get.
    If they think they can close the dumps where is the stuff going to go–believe me the stuff I take to the dump is not recycle stuff –no one would want the stuff I throw out
    Problem is a lot of the councillors are farmers and have their own private dumps in the back forty.

    Everyone in the county complains but nothing happens

  3. Recycle Bin says:

    I hope this re alignment process does NOT close down/reduce the County Re-Cycle Site availability as it exists today.
    I am hearing “Rumours” to that effect. Are they True??
    I love my local dump site on Saturdays.
    Please, let’s keep them open and then the “DITCHES WILL REMAIN CLEAN in the County.
    Your “Negative Support” requested to Council if and when the “Official Word” hits the papers.
    Thank you.

  4. Marnie says:

    However, Mark, m york does repeatedly state that council does not listen and scoffs at the idea of trying to effect change by taking complaints to the mayor and council. I don’t think you can divorce council from the regime.

  5. Mark says:

    In fairness to M.York his comments are not in reference to Council. They are towards the municipal regime, the senior levels of management who are making the decisions.

  6. Marnie says:

    m york you have totally miscontstrued what I said. I believe it is important to speak up when we feel that certain actions are wrong but the place to complain about what you perceive as council’s numerous failings is before council or in a call to the councillor who represents your ward. If you do this and it nets no results then it may be time for you to let it go. Council has taken a first step towards addressing some of our concerns. Let’s hope some of those positions that were declared redundant are not re-invented with new titles. I think council deserves the benefit of the doubt on this one,for now.

    I am not suggesting that we go back to the days when my friend was an employee of the county. What I am saying is that being a county employee in those days was in no way considered an enviable job. Today county workers are unionized and earn a lot more than many hard-working county people. They have numerous benefits and perks that many of us would very much like to enjoy. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to work for the county? Why do you feel that county employees have the right to non-stop complaints about their working conditions? Surely, if their present jobs are so stressful and demoralizing they can find better ones in short order.

    I fully agree that council in the past has made some blunders but we should not condemn our present council without giving its members a chance to make a difference.

    Gary is fighting for a cause that concerns us all. He is keeping us informed and answering questions of general interest. You are belabouring several points that appear to relate to negative experiences you or some member of your family have had with council. I am pretty certain that nothing Merlin could do or say would satisfy you.

  7. m york says:

    Gary, Its obvious you are not going to get anywhere by complaining on County Live. lol I just finished reading 6 of YOUR issues on the windmills on County Live, and thats only one of your issues. See, like i said previously those who live in glass houses should never throw stones…. SMASH

  8. m york says:

    Gary, The concerns have indeed been taken forward and i would invite you onto the street to ask for yourself. If you choose not to then thats your choice. I presume we won’t see you on hear complaining when we start loosing our services??? Correct
    PS If you really read what i wrote, you would of seen that these issues were taken forward and some individuals are now sitting up tall at Shire Hall and seeing for themselves.

  9. Gary Mooney says:

    m york, you are making a lot of accusations, but not supplying any details to back up what you say.

    To me, it’s inconceivable that, with 16 members of Council, each one elected independently of the others (i.e. no slate), that “no one is listening on Council”.

    You have not given any indication that you have taken your concerns to your Councillor, or the Mayor, or the CAO. Why not?

    It’s certain that you’re not going to reolve anything by complaining on CountyLive.

    With respect, you should do something about your concerns rather than publicly slagging all of County government.

  10. m york says:

    Marnie, You couldn’t be further from the truth… I have been a resident of this municipality for the past 60 odd years therefore i know many who have come and gone past those doors, elected officials as well. Not to mention the many years of business dealings with others.
    If you are of the thinking that nothing anyone says or does is going to change things here or around the world then why is there so much outcry on the windmill issue. Someone wrote and i can’t remember who it was on here that if we don’t speak up then the little guy will always be walked over. So my question to you would be then, why do you wish to sit back and say nothing. We’ve seen first hand how the people have a lot of influence when it comes to issues we feel stronly about and what may be of no importance to some dosn’t mean its unimportant to others….
    In regards to your comment on how things use to be in the labour force for P.E.C. well thats like comparing apples to oranges. My grandad worked for 50 cents an hour many years ago and had to walk many miles to get there and he could barely feed his family. So are you saying we should go back to those days if so have at it er. The world changes with or without you.
    As well those uniforms you spoke about well just over two weeks ago a friend brought by a few of the bright orange shirts you talked about. Their comment was that they didn’t wish to wear them, so once again the County purchases and the employee gets the flack. You seem to forget that the employee dosn’t make the decisions its the people above them, its easy to shoot the front liners when its them you see each and every day but before you load your gun at them ask yourself who bought the bullets. This is with any company big or small.

    Is the municipality in a heck of a lot of debt, yes, do we need change, yes, everyone agrees to this but at the end of the day are these changes really going to save any amount of money or are we digging ourselves a bigger hole?? If the answer is unclear then we need to stop before we continue to shovel. I have seen the numbers on paper and they don’t add up. I have talked to some contractors who are laughing themselves to the bank and ya maybe good for them, but bad for us.
    Many have taken these issues forward only to be told, i will call you back or the best one i’ve heard is, “Yes your absolutely right, that dosn’t make sense, what are they thinking, then NOTHING, no returned call, response,follow-up etc. If the taxpayers hammers away enough then just maybe someone will listen just like with the windmill issues. But for you to say more or less, no one is listening on council so why bother is not the democratic way. We ALL have a say, wrong or right. And don’t get me wrong, many are starting to sit up and say WHAT TO HELL, when they see first hand so obviously it can’t be all wrong and we will continue on for the ones who can’t speak up. Thats our right as a voting taxpayer….

  11. Marnie says:

    m york, your posts make it obvious that you or someone in your family has had some personal experience with the county as an employer. All that you say may be true, but there are a lot of us who do not work for the county who have experienced the same things – complaints/suggestions that are ignored by our bosses, nepotism etc. That’s common in a lot of workplaces. What can we do about it? When it becomes apparent that nothing we say or do is going to make a difference, we can accept it or move on.

    I agree that our tax dollars are mismanaged in many instances and a lot of ratepayers have been very vocal about this in recent times. Maybe we are starting to see a few of the changes that we feel are long overdue. At least it’s a start and we should give Merlin a chance to make a difference before we condemn his efforts. If he can save the county $1.2 million a year where’s the beef?

    County employees do not have a lot to complain about. Many years ago I had a friend who worked for the county. He was paid peanuts for a lot of hard work. He was issued some coveralls that were not embroidered with his name, in case he forgot who he was,and that was about it for the clothing provided by the county. He had very few benefits or rights and worked for years to afford a house. Compare that with what the county employees of today receive and it does not seem that they have much reason to complain.

  12. m york says:

    Marnie, Give it up already, if you don’t know then don’t assume what others are living each and everyday.Council has been addressed and the pudding was put on the table for all to see, with broken promises of change. And just so you know its not always about the money but the honest ones that come forward to speak about the wasteful spending of County $ but no one seems to care to make the changes. So you see they(employees) have brought many suggestions/ideas forward and only to be ignored or put off, so no they are not listening and i presume never will until we all go broke. Do i have an axe to grind, well maybe i do because i am sick and tired of everyone turning a blind eye when we are the ones having to pay the big ticket price for our services. HELLO

  13. Marnie says:

    m. york you obviously have a Paul Bunyan size axe to grind with council. I deplore some of the excess spending that many of us see but to be fair recently they seem to be trying. It doesn’t matter whether you work for the county or some other employer there will usually be some job stress. County employees are well-paid, receive good benefits and get every holiday going. What’s to complain about? Lots of us would be happy to take their jobs. Maybe going to council to complain would not do much good but neither does griping without at least trying to communicate our dissatisfaction to those we elected.

  14. m york says:

    Mark, You are so correct, people have NO idea whats really going on and yes the workers have been branded by speaking up about the inefficiences and many other issues and the sad thing is many have gone to the hire ups only to be ignored or worse. So Shire Hall is aware and has been on whats going on out there, they just choose to turn a blind eye. I know one employee who has been a long time employee for MANY years and was always proud to go to work. However over the last 2 years their nerves have been bad, they were having difficulty sleeping so they went to the doctor to get some advice. Their doctor stated, “I don’t know whats going on out there but we have seen a major increase of patients from the county than ever”. So you see everyone who is directly involved one way or the other is effected. So they say go see the Mayor/Mr.Dewing their door is always open…. most would advise against that.

  15. Mark says:

    Actually there has been very little complaining. Far more reality of how Shire Hall actually works. We are decades behind other municipalities in developing a healthy and productive work force. And for those that feel great progress is being made, if you haven’t worked there you have no idea. You tell me why every manager who wants to promote change and treat persons fairly has fled the County as soon as an opportunity presented itself. Belleville and Hastings who are flourishing welcome them with open arms! It is a 1960’s culture. You don’t have to believe me,just speak to any worker if they are brave enough to speak without being branded.

  16. m york says:

    Marnie, Your comment made me giggle a little considering you just wrote and i quote, “Can’t believe we actually paid for a pot hole inspector”. Your better off complaining to council????

  17. Marnie says:

    Better to complain at a council meeting, Doris.

  18. Doris Lane says:

    You are correct Gary complaining on County LIve does not work. Best to keep quiet and just take what is thrown at you.:-) 🙂 🙂

  19. m york says:

    Gentlemen, This lets wait and see attitude is all fine and dandy but have any of you’s ever experienced the full wrath of contracting out, I mean the cost of it???? Let me tell you of three municipalities who already tried this. The tendered almost everything out, got rid of equipment, offices and workers and after the one year anniversary date the cost was so unbearable the municipalities had to re-hire, re-buy and re-rent at a price that these municipalities will take YEARS to re-coup. This is exactly where were headed and the Mayor and Mr. Derlin has stated this. I agree we are in a financial mess and everyone is having to pay an awful amount just to live here but is this going to be any better in the end. Pick up the phone fellows and inquire with the other municipalities i did and we can’t afford to go down this road what so ever. However, i’ve had my say, did my research and spoke to people who have been there done that. So in closing, I will sit back and watch the chips fall where they may. Its going to be an interesting ride for everyone. Ontario Hydro even tried this and failed miserably just inquire people…

  20. Marnie says:

    Right on, Chris. This madness has to stop. We are being over-taxed and burdened with fees for things that were once covered by our taxes. It’s time to stand back and let Merlin have a chance to straighten out this mess. He appears to be moving in the right direction. Many people in the county are on fixed incomes and can barely afford the additional fees we are now required to pay for services that our taxes should cover. Soon some will no longer be able to afford to live in our county. Some wishing to build new homes have already looked elsewhere because of the excessive permit fees and building requirements here.

  21. Gary Mooney says:

    I agree with Chris. Fourteen years after amalgamation, this Council and this Mayor and this CAO are finally taking action to realize some efficiencies.

    If you have particular concerns about how things are being done, why not invite the Mayor or CAO for coffee some morning and put your concerns to them? They’re both willing to meet with anyone, any time. Much more effective than just complaining on CountyLive.

  22. Chris Keen says:

    I think everyone needs to take a very deep breath here. My taxes have increased tenfold in eighteen years!! I receive no additional services for the several thousands of dollars more a year in taxes I am now paying. In fact, I pay bag tag fees, dump fees, burn permit fees etc… that I didn’t pay before. The cost of our government is out of control.

    Obviously, because of amalgamation, all sorts of positions were created here, at that time, that have turned out to be unnecessary for PEC. Council has recognized this (finally!!) and decided to reorganize the way we are governed to meet what is required AND what we can afford.

    Let them do their job!! They have voted for the implementation of these changes. Let them happen! All this “conspiracy theory” talk is not terribly productive. If adjustments need to be made, fine. $1.2 million in savings is nothing to be sneezed at. With luck, more will be found.

  23. Mark says:

    While not certain who is conducting the staffing review I think M.York makes some good argument. How is this being done? Who is evaluating? Who or whom decides what managers stay and who hit the unemployed line. The same for the union review now underway. Shire Hall for a long long time has undoubtely been a place with a divisive culture, one that is similar to an old boys club and displays a lack of respect to all employees. The two remaining Commisioners who are relativelty new have not brought modern change and have by not bringing change supported this culture and have followed the same old path. One can only look at the numerous senior managers that have fled Prince Edward to the more harmonious and worker friendly environments of Hastings and the City of Belleviile. Not for the pay but for piece of mind and a sense of professionalism.

  24. m york says:

    Sorry Dorris lol, What i meant was Mr. Dewing is making all the suggestons(he’s the consultant agency) and the council and mayor are agreeing to everything, no questions asked apparently. He is able to hire,fire,promote and demote as he see’s fit.

  25. Doris Lane says:

    myork you must have an inside track–what do mean Mertens own people=who are his own people? the councillors?

  26. m york says:

    Doris, I just got a call from a friend who said there is a poll that Mix 97 is doing right now so i just checked it out. Mayor Mertens is quoted as saying he has consultants looking at people’s jobs right now. These so called consultants are his very own people, no one that has been hired out of house, so once again we are going by what a few select people believe to be in the best interest of the taxpayers lol. 47.76% of the people voted by saying,”They better trim front line workers first”. However we have all witnessed that this is not the case but the direct opposite. Mayor Mertens was also quoted as saying’ “there looking at union staff right now” well MR.MAYOR i ask you this WHAT ABOUT ALL THE OVERLY ABUNDANT NUMBER OF SUPERVISOR,MANAGERS… ??????????

  27. Doris Lane says:

    Who knows what is really happening? Who is capable of knowing? Where are all the experts that work for the County? Where are all the Councillors with expert knowledge?

    The mess we are in is a really big one–our debt is one on a par with the province. Well I have the money to pay my taxes soon which I resent doing. I am tired of my money being wasted by all levels of government.

    The big debt we now have is not the fault of this council but it is this council that has to clean it up–will all this stuff they are doing clean it up ? I have my doubts//

    I hear we have a pot hole inspector–you have to be kidding?

  28. m york says:

    Mark, I agree there is no expertise here, only assumptions and that can be quite costly to the taxpayers. Yes, i do agree that changes do need to be made and an overhaul is overdue. BUT,the question i have is,”Lets lay it all out in the open because everyone that i have spoken to and there’s a lot say the total opposite of what is being printed. And who better to ask then the one’s involved”) When the County does a Clean Sweep(Starting at the TOP) then your suppose to proceed down the food chain. Its not the little guy who has made all of the decisions that have created all the problems because they don’t have that power. So, who made the mistakes of time past MNGT. so why are we not cleaning up that mess before it repeats itself???? Thats all I’m sayiing…

  29. m york says:

    Gary, You said exactly what i said,except you reworded it with your words. And if you look at the chart it says 11 water/wastewater (eliminated positions) but now to date they will have 14 new positions with a NEW NAME ONLY because the asset technician is now an operator as is the old supervisor. On the mngt. end we now have Mr.Dewing,Mr.McCauley,Mr.Caza,Mr.Wales and Mr. Kerr. (Yes 5 mngt positions) The reasons for this will present themselves rather quickly.
    They also just interviewed for a new chief water operator as well as another operator.
    So, once again PROGAGANDA and from everyone i have personally talked to YES, there were going to be changes but not for the reasons you have mentioned.NOTE: There is no new job descriptions for these positions, just that you are now working in one or the other…Not only that but the couple of positions that were eliminated were offered back to them in a different dept./area if they chose to accept. Some retired from different depts.I believe 1 or two mngt positions were eliminated with no return but thats it. More positions have been created then exited thus far..

  30. Mark says:

    I do not think every move by the municipal government should be questioned but I do have issues with the conclusion that they have the expertise and knowledge of what is needed and what is not. If that was the case we wouldn’t be undertaking this exercise as it wouldn’t be necessary.

  31. Gary Mooney says:

    M York: Nobody said that the County was laying off most of its water and wastewater staff. It was presented as a restructuring, with a list of new positions (with new job descriptions) replacing a list of old positions.

    As I understand it, there was no plan to reduce staff in Water/Wastwater; rather, it was decided to separate the two functions, so that nobody has responsibilities in both areas. Reasons: easier training and improved staff retention.

    If you’ll check the table, you’ll see that this is what was done. Positions are now either water or wastewater, not combined. The number of staff in water + wastewater is the same as before, or maybe one less. The reductions in staff occurred elsewhere.

  32. m york says:

    Its called County propaganda, they said they laid off most of those numbers from the water and sewer but forgot to mention no one lost their jobs they just got new titles, two new supervisors and are interviewing for a foreman and another operator not to mention they still have the same two top top dogs over these positions. So NO ONE lost a job here they just got new titles lol…. They said they were going to make things better in these depts. however when you keep the mngt. staff they had in the first place nothing changes HELLO!!!!! There has been more mngt. positions created and the little guy continues to get the shaft go figure. So in closing don’t kid yourself to what your reading, instead get out there and ask, hey what jobs were lost and which ones have been created you will be shocked. PURE PROPAGANDA COUNTY STYLE…..

  33. Marnie says:

    Why is it that “low quality” facilities are unthinkable for county staff but fine for the poor taxpayers on fixed incomes who have to fund space in Taj Mahals like the Edward? No one wants to go back to the days when the Picton police office was in a cranny under the stairwell at the PUC office but with all of the vacant county-owned properties surely decent accommodations could have been provided for county staff without going top of the line.

    Will we really save all of the money they claim because of the recent restructuring or will some of those whose positions have been cut simply resurface with new titles? Can’t believe we actually paid for a pot-hole inspector.

  34. Gary Mooney says:

    The County has now completed Phase 2 of its top-down restructuring, which will reduce expenses by $1.2 million, equal to 5% of the municipal tax levy of $24.5 million. In particular, two of the highest paid positions (commissioners) have been eliminated. Given that nobody (neither residents nor Councillors) wants services reduced or eliminated, I think that this is good progress.

    The decision to lease space in the Edward building was a good one, especially considering that the original proposal was to undertake a major, multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of Shire Hall plus expensive renovation of other, low-quality facilities.

    It’s neither appropriate nor reasonable to second-guess every decision taken by County government. They have the expertise and the knowledge of what is needed and what is not.

  35. Lyn says:

    why is the county moving staff to the Edward where I hear the rent is very high. Would it not be cheaper to send all thoses people to the old Parks and Rec Building??? Sounds like money is just being moved from one line to another.

  36. evil says:

    it appears like a lot of smoke and screens going on

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