For “complete change of culture” Canada’s ninth most populous city sacks 25 managers and key staff: Brampton

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Canada’s ninth most populous city, Brampton, Ontario (www.brampton.ca), recently sacked 25 employees, according to an article in The Star. Known as “the flower city” this suburban municipality of over 525,000 in the Greater Toronto Area had a number of problems to address. Here are a few excerpts from the article. See source for full text.

The City of Vancouver (similar population, at 603,502 in 2011) has been known to abruptly announce the firing of prominent senior staff in the past five years. The reasons for the high-profile firings are typically not made public, but cost-saving was never mentioned, leading to guesses that ideological factors and differences with the ruling political regime were at play. One of the problems in Vancouver has been that experienced staff have retired, been fired or have left of their own accord, with the result being that some of the precious experience and institutional memory of the municipal government has been lost. The cost-saving of reducing staff numbers must be balanced with many other factors, but the ultimate aim should be the best possible service to the citizens and taxpayers and enhancing trust in the municipal government. The public cost of settlement package

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City of Brampton sacks 25 managers, key staff
By San Grewal, Urban Affairs Reporter, The Star (6-Sept-2016)

“Twenty-five managers, many of them key staff in the administration, fired Tuesday as councillor hopes for ‘complete change of culture.’”

 

In a sweeping move, the City of Brampton has informed 25 managers, including some of its most senior staff, they are no longer employed with the municipality.

“All the chiefs are all gone. The sixth floor has been cleaned out,” said Councillor Pat Fortini, following the stunning announcement by the city’s new chief administrative officer Tuesday.

The move comes after an external financial review by Ontario’s former auditor general last year revealed unsustainable labour costs, including the bureaucratic class, that were swallowing up a disproportionate amount of property tax revenues. The move will reportedly save the city $2 million a year, as many of the vacated positions will not be filled.

“This is disruptive,” said Mayor Linda Jeffrey, “there’s no doubt about it. Losing 25 people, 25 key individuals in the city is a very large change to what we’re going to do in the coming weeks, and I think we’re all going to grapple with that. Whether you choose change or it’s thrust upon you, it’s difficult. But I am confident in the leadership provided by our CAO.

… Jeffrey said that recently hired CAO Harry Schlange was specifically brought on as “an agent of change.”

… The change came as welcome news to some councillors.

“The sunshine list (of public sector employees in Ontario making $100,000 a year or more) is growing like crazy in Brampton,” Fortini said, mentioning the independent report last year by former Ontario auditor general Jim McCarter. “People are walking around trying to justify these management jobs while property taxes are going up and up.”

.. Tuesday’s unprecedented move is the latest surprise in a city whose government has been dogged by problems in recent years:

  • In 2014 it was revealed that staff had lost track of the status of capital projects worth tens of millions of dollars.
  • After years of being told that no taxpayer dollars were spent on former mayor Susan Fennell’s private events, councillors learned staff had purchased about $175,000 worth of tickets to the events.
  • A $28.5-million lawsuit has been filed against the city alleging there was staff misconduct in the handling of a $500-million downtown development deal.
  • Senior staff secretly altered Fennell’s salary without informing council.
  • In 2011 an independent analysis of municipal budgeting accuracy ranked Brampton dead last out of 23 Canadian cities.

Full article: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/06/city-of-brampton-sacks-25-managers-key-staff.html

OTHER LINKS:

New top bureaucrat in Brampton was unaware of city’s past problems
Harry Schlange, Brampton’s new CAO, says he didn’t know about city’s past problems, but promises new “synergies.”
(The Star, 12-Jul-2016)
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/07/11/new-top-bureaucrat-in-brampton-was-unaware-of-citys-past-problems.html

We are not sure which “independent analysis of municipal budgeting accuracy” is cited above, but did find this from the C.D. Howe Institute in 2015.

Building Better Budgets: Canada’s Cities Should Clean Up their Financial Reporting (2015)
In it, Vancouver ranks 15 versus Brampton’s 21 in “Summary of Spending Accuracy, 2005-2014” (Table 2), and both Vancouver and Brampton earn a B-minus mark for “2015 Report Card – Clarity of City Budgets and Financial Statements” (Table 1)
https://www.cdhowe.org/sites/default/files/attachments/research_papers/mixed/Commentary_439.pdf

A look at top City of Vancouver salaries in 2015. Former City Manager Penny Ballem top wage earner. 2437 employees earned more than $75,000
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/a-look-at-top-city-of-vancouver-salaries-in-2015-former-city-manager-penny-ballem-top-wage-earner-2437-employees-earned-more-than-75000/

City Manager fired – Penny Ballem let go: Cloud of mystery about reasons, and possible violation of legislation with sudden termination
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2015/09/15/city-manager-fired/

CBC’s Rick Cluff interviews fired Director of Planning Brent Toderian (Feb 9), archive link here.
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/cbcs-rick-cluff-interviews-fired-director-of-planning-brent-toderian-feb-9-archive-link-here/

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Media release by City of Brampton

http://www.brampton.ca/EN/City-Hall/News/Pages/Media-Release.aspx/291

Media Release
City of Brampton implements significant structural changes; sets foundation to build a “future ready” organization
Tuesday, Sep 06 2016

BRAMPTON, ON: Today the City of Brampton announced changes to its organizational and leadership structure that will allow the City to be more responsive and business-like in its administrative operations.

Earlier this year administrators heard from City Councillors, community members and employees that the City of Brampton needs to clarify roles, reduce duplication, increase speed and focus on progress over process. This feedback prompted a comprehensive organizational review and structural changes have now been implemented that will better enable the City to achieve these goals.

The changes involve:

  • Flattening the structure of the City of Brampton by removing layers in the organizational hierarchy.
  • Eliminating duplication by consolidating business service units that were previously located across the organization.
  • Building greater cooperation across all departments to more seamlessly facilitate investment, innovation and high levels of customer service and increase the City’s ability to compete on a global stage.

The changes result in a reduction of 20 management positions throughout the organization. While the primary objective of these changes is to modernize City operations, the elimination of these positions will also result in $2 million in cost savings each year going forward.

“We heard from Members of Council, employees and the community that our organization needs to think bigger about Brampton’s future,” said Harry Schlange, Chief Administrative Officer, “It is our immediate next priority to work with leaders across this corporation to ensure all employees come to the City each day excited, engaged and empowered to deliver, recognizing that Brampton deserves our very best.”

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About Brampton: The ninth-largest city in Canada, Brampton celebrates a diverse population that represents people from 209 distinct ethnic backgrounds who speak 89 different languages. Brampton residents and visitors have access to state-of-the-art recreation facilities and one of the fastest-growing transit systems in Canada. Opened in 2007, Brampton Civic Hospital is part of the William Osler Health System, which is one of the largest community hospitals in Canada. For more information, visit http://www.brampton.ca or follow @CityBrampton on Twitter.

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