Town staff being clipped

Duane Hicks

To help deal with its 2013 budget shortfall, the Town of Fort Frances has made staffing reductions.
The projected savings for the town’s operating budget will be $346,745.26 for the rest of this year, and going forward will save $507,715.60 each year starting in 2014.
Given the town’s chief building official/superintendent of planning and development has retired, the duties have been split between the town’s sustainability co-ordinator, who will take on the duty of chief building official and now be known as chief building official and facilities/project co-ordinator, and the town’s CAO, who assumed responsibility for the Planning and Development division.
The projected savings from the retirement and reclassification will be $58,628.67 in 2013 and $87,084.90 in 2014.
Over at Public Works, the working foreman is expected to retire soon, with the position posted internally.
The position of the successful candidate will not be replaced.
The projected savings from the retirement and staffing reduction will be $34,083.85 in 2013 and $66,930.55 in 2014.
The Public Works administrative assistant also will be retiring and her position eliminated.
The projected savings is $34,301.85 for 2013 and $67,429.24 for 2014.
The position of accounting clerk at Public Works has been eliminated, but the employee will be transferred to the Civic Centre to be a receptionist/accounting clerk.
This, in turn, means the displacement and layoff of one employee.
The savings related to this transfer and layoff will be $39,364.55 in 2013 and $56,211.61 in 2014.
After a recent resignation, the position of Provincial Offences Act (POA) clerk/court reporter has been eliminated, with the job duties being assumed by the POA co-ordinator.
This will save $27,352.08 in 2013.
The recent retirement of a first-class firefighter, meanwhile, has resulted in a staffing reduction of one firefighter.
The resultant savings are $67,376.56 in 2013 and $116,891.75 in 2014.
The recreation facilities superintendent has been reclassified as a recreation facilities maintenance attendant, with the supervisory and administrative aspects of the former position being assumed by existing Community Services administrative staff.
The projected savings of this reclassification will be $22,770.47 in 2013 and $22,948.26 in 2014.
The town also has eliminated four seasonal positions without laying off existing staff, including:
•one Parks seasonal labourer;
•one Public Works student labourer;
•one Memorial Sports Centre student labourer; and
•one museum student labourer.
The elimination of these four positions is projected to save $62,867.22 in 2013 and beyond.
At Monday’s budget meeting, Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig noted the staffing changes resulted in the layoff of one employee.
But all in all, he said the initiative was met “pretty favourably” with staff.
“I am satisfied with the way everything played out,” McCaig remarked. “There was some mutually-agreeable and beneficial negotiations that went on between senior staff and administration, with the approval of council.”
McCaig added that although the employees’ name have been withheld, he wanted the staffing changes to be made public.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft congratulated McCaig on carrying through with the initiative, noting it was a lot of work by senior administration.
Coun. Andrew Hallikas noted that several positions have been eliminated but the work remains the same, and employees staying on are going to be doing extra work.
“I think we should acknowledge that, and thanking them for stepping up to the plate in tough times like this,” he said.