Council delays decision on staff survey

By on January 10, 2018
(Herald file photo).


The rapid turnover of senior managers with the City of Merritt over the last two years prompted a motion to investigate from Coun. Linda Brown.

A notice of motion addressing the revolving door of staff at the City of Merritt will have to wait a couple weeks to be addressed — in private.

At the regular council meeting on Dec. 19, Coun. Linda Brown made a notice of motion calling for a staff satisfaction survey to be conducted by an outside consulting firm, citing an extraordinary amount of senior and mid-management turnover in recent years, resulting increases to human resource costs and a lack of a staff evaluation by council in 2017.

Coun. Linda Brown

Brown told the Herald the reason she brought this motion to the table was due to job security concerns she has heard from members of staff at all levels.

“I have heard that they’re not happy here and they feel afraid of being fired,” Brown told the Herald.

She also said the she has noticed a high amount of overtime hours being logged in the city’s financial stats.

This motion on staff morale was to be voted on Tuesday (Jan. 9) night, but a point of order from Coun. Diana Norgaard calling for its discussion to be deferred to a private, in-camera meeting delayed the vote.

“This is a matter that has to do with staffing and we should be discussing [it] in a closed meeting, not an open public meeting,” Norgaard said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of the deferment, with only Brown herself opposing the action.

Brown told the Herald she felt the motion didn’t need to be discussed in-camera as it did not relate to any specific employees.

There was already an in-camera meeting scheduled to take place Tuesday’s meeting, and Norgaard indicated council should discuss the survey at that time, but that action was prohibited.

“In order to have a closed meeting the corporate officer has to post the substance of the meeting 24 hours in advance,” corporate officer Sean Smith told the Herald.

Smith said that if council wished to waive that 24 hour requirement a unanimous vote would have been required, but no such motion was made.

As such, the closed meeting to discuss conducting the survey will be held Jan. 23.

The city has parted ways with eight managers, including three recreation directors, since former public works manger Shawn Boven was promoted to the role of chief administrative officer in mid-2015.

“Council has a duty and responsibility to both the public and the staff to ensure there is a smooth running operation, and how staff are impacted during such massive staffing changes,” Brown’s motion stated.

If council approves undertaking the staff satisfaction survey, Brown’s motion calls for it to be done for under $30,000.

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