Perhaps it’s not quite what you’d call a mass exodus — especially considering at least a couple of the municipal employees didn’t leave willingly — but there’s been a lot of key and longtime people leaving the hall in recent months.
Looking at the 2010 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) list of the top earners at the Resort Municipality of Whistler, there are now seven individuals who are no longer on the muni payroll. It all started after the 2010 Games when Jim Godfrey retired, followed by former CAO Bill Barratt in July 2011.
Harry Kim, general manager of environmental services, left the RMOW in September, Whistler Public Library director Lauren Stara left the following month and Lisa Landry, GM of economic viability, resigned in November.
And this week’s big news is the elimination of Mike Vance’s position — plus the resignation of Bill Brown, manager of community planning.
It should be noted that the reduction in payroll from these various departures won’t be fully felt until the 2012 SOFI report, which won’t be made public until June of 2013. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see where things stand on the 2011 report — especially considering that up to and including 2010, the list of RMOW employees earning $75,000 was growing each year.
With the recent news that CAO Mike Furey is continuing his organizational structure review at the general manager level, and will then move on to the departmental level, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some other muni employees jumping ship in the days to come.
Though Furey declined to comment this week on the mood around the hall these days, we can only imagine how some people must be feeling knowing their positions, job titles and responsibilities are under scrutiny.
We think it’s interesting that Furey decided to axe the Policy and Program Development division, and Vance’s position, now — instead of waiting until his review of other departments is complete. The anticipation of further cuts, and uncertainty about the future, can’t be great for morale.
People in the community have been calling for a reduction in municipal payroll for years now, and it’s finally happening. The total paid in 2010 to the seven senior staff members who are no longer at the hall was more than $1.17 million. And as far as we know, only one of those positions has been truly replaced to date, with Furey brought on to replace Barratt. In other cases, existing staff members have been moved into acting positions.
Of course, there are costs to layoffs that we’re likely to never know. Because of confidentiality, severance amounts are not made public. But an educated guess would suggest they’re fairly hefty for long-term muni employees such as Vance.
And is it just us, or does putting a name and face to the long-awaited staffing cuts make it all less appealing? Even if you wholeheartedly believe that the RMOW is top-heavy and bloated with too many people and too much bureaucracy, in a small community it’s difficult to picture the upheaval for individuals and families that you know.
Don’t get us wrong — the organizational review is overdue and a critical eye must be taken without letting personal considerations prevail. Maybe it’s just not as easy to do that as we thought.
And for people like Landry and Brown who are leaving on their own accord (perhaps because of ongoing changes and uncertainty at the hall?), the community is losing people who by all accounts were really good at their jobs.
Certainly there are other qualified, effective people who will remain, but it will be interesting to see what things look like at the hall in another six months or a year.
- Jennifer Miller