Operational Review

Operational Review

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An operational review of the Town of Oliver shows that the municipality is well managed with low costs and low staffing.
That was the finding of Dugal Smith and Associates in a detailed report released by the Town last week.
The “report card” was commissioned by the Town to see where improvements could be made. Although staffing levels and expenses are low compared to similar sized municipalities, Smith did make 47 recommendations for possible improvements.
Council is going forward with 22 recommendations within the next two years. Only seven of the 47 recommendations were not accepted by council.
Some of the recommendations made by Smith deal with a number of staff and management positions.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said these recommendations were made with a great deal of thought to better the operations of the community as a whole. “Not all decisions were easy,” Hovanes said.
The mayor said council is encouraged by the consultant’s perspective of Oliver.
“We understand that one should always look to improve your operations and strive for best practices whenever possible.”
Smith said many of the Town’s services are contracted out, which has a favourable impact on costs and staffing.
He noted there are several areas where the Town could reduce, eliminate or contract out services. These include sidewalk snow removal (eliminate), cemetery operations (contract out), and airport operations (limited spending).
More than half of the Town’s staff is based in Public Works, where there is only one manager. Smith said three key staff members are eligible to retire in 18 months, therefore, formal planning is required to prepare for these changes.
The following are Smith’s recommendations designed to improve costs and Town operations:
Appoint a manager of operations in Public Works; train more successors for two utility operator positions; ask the RDOS to partner with the Town in sharing the costs of cemetery operations; eliminate one clerical position in the Town hall; increase revenues from airport operations; find ways to reduce overall water costs to avoid raising prices as water consumption declines; increase public hours at the Town hall to eight hours a day; eliminate the earned day off program; and eliminate cost of living increases for managers and restructure their overtime arrangements.
Smith said the overall impact to the recommendations is a negligible savings of $14,000.
The following are some items the Town plans to implement in the next six months: Review water pricing regularly; sell surplus mowing equipment; live within the grants in aid policy of 0.05 per cent of the budget; find ways to reduce sewer operation costs; hire a manager of operations; eliminate a clerk position at the Town office; change office hours to 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and stay open through lunch; eliminate the earned day off program; reduce vacation carry-overs and payouts; budget for management staff overtime; and hire summer students for routine tasks as permitted in the collective agreement.
Items that the Town plans to implement in six to 12 months include dedicating three successors to train as utility operators, hiring an additional crewmember, and increasing the wage level for utility operators.
The following report recommendations will not be implemented: discontinue residential sidewalk snow clearing; discontinue both “sister city” programs; discontinue the Youth Ambassador Program.

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