Huron East creates new clerk, treasury positions
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Huron East Council has voted to create singular clerk and deputy-treasurer positions, while eliminating the stand-alone role of the drainage clerk.
Council discussed the issue at its Aug. 10 meeting, which was held virtually via Zoom. New Chief Administrative Officer Brad McRoberts presented a report and recommendation on the subject, saying it was one of the earliest tasks council had directed him to undertake when he was hired earlier this year.
For years, he said, the chief administrative officer would also serve as the municipality’s clerk and there was no deputy-treasurer. A clerk’s role will be to handle council agendas and minutes, elections, records management, freedom of information requests, licensing, vital statistics, commissioning, serving as the secretary/treasurer to the committee of adjustment, bylaw and property standards, planning, municipal drains, fences act, wildlife damage compensation, communications and accessibility.
In his report, McRoberts said Huron East has the highest ratio of service population to full-time equivalent employees without a clerk. Huron East’s 5,389 service population per full-time equivalent is “well above” the average of 2,552 service population per full-time equivalent in the county, he said. He also said that his comparison showed that Huron East has the lowest number of resources in the chief administrative officer and clerk service area across the comparable municipalities, which included all of Huron County, West Perth, North Middlesex, Arran-Elderslie and Mapleton.
The largest task for a new clerk, McRoberts said, at least in the early stages of employment, would be a universal records management system. The current system, he said, appeared to be a patchwork of how records were kept by Huron East’s five member municipalities prior to amalgamation, which can be confusing. He said a standard system for the entire municipality should be brought in, and managed by the new clerk.
He also suggested a new electronic document system and an improved communication plan, which is another of the tasks council has asked McRoberts to tackle.
“Current formal communication via the website, public notices and social media is limited,” McRoberts said in his report. “Council has asked for a communication strategy to be prepared and this will be provided at a later date as a separate report. The communication strategy will need to have a point person to co-ordinate the preparation and distribution of external communication approved by the chief administrative officer. It would be a suitable role for someone in the clerk position.”
He also said that the recent resignation of the drainage clerk has created an opportunity with the finance department also lacking sufficient resources. He recommended that council eliminate the position, rolling any administrative responsibilities tied to the position into the clerk’s role and the financial portion of the role would be taken on by the newly-created deputy-treasurer role in the finance department.
The new deputy-treasurer, according to McRoberts’ report, would be responsible for asset management, grant applications and funding reports, bank reconciliation, harmonized sales tax (HST) claims, financial analysis and reporting, reconciliation and billing of shared services, the financial component of municipal drains and assisting and supporting information technology (IT) management.
The creation of the position, McRoberts said in his report, would transfer a number of key responsibilities, alleviating the workload pressures on Treasurer Paula Michiels.
McRoberts said timing for the creation of both positions will be critical, as the clerk will need to begin preparations for the 2022 municipal election soon and the treasurer and deputy-treasurer would need to begin year-end fiscal and audit reporting soon.
Creating two new positions and eliminating the drainage clerk position, McRoberts said, will result in an additional net cost to the municipality of between $130,000 and $160,000. For the current budget year, he said, the existing vacancies in the drainage clerk and economic development officer positions will provide sufficient savings to cover any additional salaries.
Council approved McRoberts’ recommendation with Mayor Bernie MacLellan saying the report confirmed what councillors had known for a long time: that the municipality was on the lower end in regards to its staffing complement and that help was needed at the municipal office.