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New staffing positions likely funded in Banff budget

“This was identified in independent third party analysis of the organization staffing resources, and through that process, the finance department was identified as the most under-resourced level of staff."
Banff Town Hall 1
Banff Town Hall

BANFF – Banff’s elected officials look set to approve three new positions administration and a third-party consultant say are needed to maintain the current levels of service for residents, including for the finance department which has been stretched to the limit.

During the first day of council’s annual review of municipal services on Monday (Dec. 4), the governance and finance committee went in camera to discuss confidential matters related to the positions, particularly given the departure of corporate services director Chris Hughes later this month.

Town of Banff officials say a third-party independent contractor – Meyers, Norris and Penny (MNP) – found the finance department was short-staffed by 2.5 full-time positions needed to meet and maintain the current levels of service.

While one full-time position was funded this year, Mayor Corrie DiManno said the proposed new accounting coordinator is needed to get the finance department “out of the water it is currently drowning in.”

“This was identified in an independent third-party analysis of the organization staffing resources, and through that process, the finance department was identified as the most under-resourced level of staff,” she said.

“That speaks volumes on the need here and how this department has likely been limping through the last several years as more and more demands have been asked of this department, and in my opinion, they are in need of some major relief.”

With an expected start date in March 2024, the accounting coordinator position comes with a wage of $68,600  plus benefits next year, before jumping to $84,500 and $86,200 plus benefits in 2025 and 2026, respectively.

Hughes said some areas of focus for the finance department include a move from paper invoices to electronic notifications for taxes and utilities, accepting EFT payment, and getting away from paper timesheets for payroll to online entries.

“What we’ve found over last few years is the more senior positions in the department are being pulled into transactional work just to get day-to-day accounting done, which doesn’t free them up for more value-added work,” he said. “This is bringing the process into the 21st century.”

Coun. Ted Christensen was the only councillor who voted against funding the new position. He questioned whether there was talk of reducing the level of service to residents from this department, but did not make any motions to do that.

“I do find difficulty in supporting this motion at this time until we determine if service levels can be reduced below the current level,” he said.

Two other staffing positions have also been tentatively approved by the governance and finance committee – a heavy duty mechanic and an accounts payable administrator – but like the accounting coordinator position, final decisions won’t be made until the operating budget is passed.

The heavy duty mechanic comes with wages of $110,000 in 2024, $115,600 in 2025 and $120,200 in 2026 plus benefits, while wages for the accounts payable position are $46,000 in 2024 with a March start date, before jumping to $64,000 in 2025 and $67,100 in 2026 plus benefits.

Town Manager Kelly Gibson said these three positions are the top priorities.

“There are other stress points throughout the organization, but at this point, these are the three most important to make sure we have the ability to deliver services as requested,” he said.

Fleet services provide mechanical services seven days a week for the entire Town of Banff fleet, ranging from lawnmowers, blowers and chainsaws to snowplows, garbage trucks and firetrucks.

Paul Godfrey, director of operations for the Town of Banff, said the last time the roster was increased for fleet services was in 2015, yet since that time there have been an additional 49 motorized vehicles and equipment units.

“Because we are short-handed, we’re falling short of doing the critical preventative maintenance programs for our fleet,” he said.

“We’ve mostly been doing reactive maintenance. Something breaks we fix it, so it’s more triage than anything. What rolls up to the door is what we’re going to work on.”

Aside from Christensen, the rest of council supported the new position; however, Coun. Hugh Pettigrew spoke to the need for stronger business planning to anticipate costs for an aging fleet moving forward.

“I’ll support it, but I have always maintained better business plans anticipate those costs so we’re better prepared,” he said.

DiManno said approving the position comes down to “good governance.”

“We have been burdened with the knowledge that we are not able to meet our own expectations when it comes to maintaining our fleet so that really bothers me,” she said.

The governance and finance committee unanimously supported the request for an accounts payable administrator to provide additional support in the operations division, such as invoice processing, purchase orders, and reconciliation of power bills among others.

“What we’re asking for is a financial professional to help us account for all those things,” said Godfrey.

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