Corporate Officer Tracey Butler promoted to Deputy CAO with a 20 per cent raise and an assistant

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
November 15th, 2012

On Monday evening CAO Cecile Arnott presented council with the “restructuring we’ve been doing with management,” including an overall reduction in the number of managers and a $20,000 increase to Corporate Officer (now Deputy CAO) Tracey Butler’s salary. The city will also hire a “confidential secretary-deputy CO” to assist Butler’s work.

The new structure follows from a confidential report by former CAO Victor Kumar in June, 2012, (attached below) that was also declassified on Monday. The report offers a number of structural options and also claims that vacancies are tough to fill due to a shortage of qualified applicants and due to a perception that Rossland is a “difficult” working environment with a reputation for disrespecting and abusing its staff.


“Until 2010 and 2011, we had eight managers,” Arnott began. “We had a CAO, a corporate officer [CO], a manager of finance [CFO],  a manager of operations, a manager of planning, a building inspector, and a recreation manager. In 2013, if we still had these eight managers—based on the cost of base salaries—this would cost upwards of $830,000.”


“And I’m sure they were worth it,” she continued, “but council had to make some tough decisions because of the ‘boom’ not happening.”


Up until 2012 there were five managers: the CAO, CO, operations, and planning, and the CFO’s position was vacant. In 2013 base salaries, Arnott said, this would cost $580,000.


“When we do our first round of budgets, we’re going to calculate the net savings,” she said. “These cuts, for want of a better word, were achieved through attrition, but also through shifting some of the workloads. The remaining management team had to be way more hands on. It makes for fewer resources to do the ‘ad hoc’, and there are a lot of ad hoc things in the day-to-day to run the city.”


Furthermore, Arnott claimed there were “challenges in filling the vacancies,” citing high housing costs and “competition in the marketplace,” “so people who are qualified might go somewhere where it’s a little less costly to live, to be able to afford it. It makes it a little tougher to entice people,” she said.


In light of these challenges, Arnott introduced CO Tracey Butler’s promotion to “deputy CAO” in terms of “succession planning.” “If you’re changing all the time, and changing the structure,” Arnott explained, “it gets a little tough for everyone to handle.”


“Through workload shifts, we can get more for less by combining two positions,” Arnott said, giving her position as CAO/CFO as an example. By the same logic, Arnott said, “If you combine the deputy CAO and the CO position, you’re setting yourself up so that the deputy CAO is now in a position for succession planning.”


“Congratulations to Tracey, for taking that on,” Arnott said. The four managerial positions are now CAO and CFO combined, deputy CAO and CO combined, and the managers of planning and operations.


“We’ve talked about this as a management group, and we feel we’re up for the challenge,” she said. “However, it means more change, more workload shifts.”


“We’ve met with employees [who work inside City Hall] and asked for their feedback,” she added, “which was really interesting because basically the feedback was the same [as from the managers.]”


“We believe that the immediate need right now is at the front [desk], somebody to assist the deputy CAO-CO position,” she said. “The CFO position we think we can do through myself, for the planning side, and having the deputy CAO take on some of the CAO responsibilities, and we have someone in our accounting team who is capable and willing to take on some extra duties.”


Arnott said the team is “actually quite pumped about it.”


Arnott continued that the city gets “a lot” of Freedom of Information requests. “FOI requests are a legislated service, and they are something that people can access, they have that right, so we need to provide that service. We must do it.” She claimed that FOI requests take up about 30 per cent of a full time position, or one and a half days per week. 


“We need help with confidential correspondence, agendas, information packages, and a backup to the deputy CAO in the front office,” Arnott said, explaining that this new confidential secretary would be positioned to take over the role of CO.


Then Arnott cracked out the numbers, beginning with “where we were”: she said base salaries in 2013 would have included a CAO ($155,300), a CFO ($111,000), and a CO and a temp “combined because I ran out of space” ($124,000), for a total of $390,300.


Under the “new structure,” base salaries in 2013 will include the CAO/CFO ($145,000),  and the deputy CAO/CO ($121,500), for a total of $266,000. She did not explain why the CAO in the first scenario cost $10,000 more, nor why the second scenario excludes the new confidential secretary-deputy-CO position.


Arnott said her 2013 salary is the same as in 2012—”I should have been a little tougher [in the contract process],” she joked with council—and added that Butler has “agreed to do it for $118,000 [in 2012, increasing to $121,500 in 2013], which is a little less than the report said.”


Arnott noted that Kumar’s report cites lower estimates for both the CAO and CFO’s base salaries. She explained, “I know from experience that to hire a CFO, you’d be looking at upwards of $107,000.”


(Note that these “base salaries” do not include benefit packages. For example, Arnott’s contract is for $160,000, of which she “donates” $15,000 to the city to help cover her benefits. A recent opinion piece by Laurie Charlton questioned why this would be the case, and suggested the only reason is to “artificially inflate” her pensionable earnings.)


The difference between the $390,000 of “where we were” and the $266,000 of “where we are,” Arnott said, “is funding we would have available to hire the confidential secretary or deputy CO. We’re still working on what that position would be.” 


Coun. Jill Spearn asked if the redistributed workloads would increase costs to the city, as jobs previously taken on by managers get delegated down the chain. “Do we need to hire any more?” she asked.


Arnott replied, “Not yet, we’re certainly hopeful we can do it with this. The change has happened already. The shift from the other positions we’ve lost has already been done.” She added that employee salaries depend on union negotiations, so “if a position were to change drastically, it could warrant a new salary grade. But right now we’re not looking at that.”


Coun. Cary Fisher asked what qualifications were legislated for CFOs, and noted his opinion that “Rossland went through a period of too much management growth.” Arnott replied that the Local Government Act “says you have to have an officer, it doesn’t say that officer has to be designated.”


Much of the rest of council’s discussion and comments were focused on the 30 per cent of a full time position (0.3 FTE) Arnott said was required for FOI requests.


“About how many people request [FOI]?” Fisher asked. “0.3 is a lot of time for a person.” Arnott replied that she was not allowed to answer.


Coun. Jody Blomme asked, “Is the idea that the confidential secretary would do the 0.3 FTE, so it’s a lower rate for doing FOIs?” Arnott replied yes, and “it will also free up Ms. Butler’s time to do more of the other positions’ [work].”


Mayor Greg Granstrom commented, “One of the problems with mentioning how many persons are putting in FOI requests, if it were only one person, that person could be singled out, but we certainly can’t say it’s one person, because it isn’t.”


“So I’ll ask it in a different way,” Coun. Jill Spearn said to Arnott, “In other municipalities where you have worked, is it a common thing to have that many FOI requests in a city of 3500?”


“In the ones I’ve worked,” Arnott said, “No, it’s not common.”


There was no further discussion on the issues Arnott raised.

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