Doing More With Less....
It's tough to lose one's job.
Citizen Ellie knows something about that, having experienced redundancy twice during her working career. The abrupt closure of Ottawa TODAY (without severance pay when the owners ran back to their hidey-holes in Toronto)) and the lack of local media jobs at the time meant Citizen Ellie had to reinvent herself. An interest in industrial relations stood her well during the next 20-plus years of her working life -- until hospital amalgamation in 1998 brought the golden handshake and early retirement. So Citizen Ellie has some sympathy for the 44 managers who were laid off this week by the city.
Anyone who has had to deal with city hall since amalgamation knows all about bureaucratic runarounds. The folks at city hall were masters at this game. If you needed a zoning variation or a building permit you've experienced the frustration first hand. It took forever to get answers to even the simplest questions or action on a bylaw infraction. Those ordinary citizens who managed to navigate the maze are deserving of a special award. One of the local artists who benefits from taxpayers' largesse could be commissioned to create something suitable -- a large knife slicing through a giant ball of red tape might work.
These layoffs were accompanied by other restructuring -- some managers have been demoted, some have been offered transfers and some have been promoted. This shake-up represents a savings of $3.7 million annually and represents a 7% reducation in the city's administrative costs. It's the third phase of cuts since last fall -- a portion of the 230 jobs to be chopped over the next two years.
But can the taxpayers be sure that remaining city staff will increase their productivity levels ? That surely is the goal of this efficiency exercise.
"Doing more with less" must become the mantra at city hall, as it has been in the real world for the past 15 years -- since the recession of the early '90s.
One becomes even less confident productivity and efficiency goals will be reached when one considers the $644 million the city spent on outside contractors in 2008. More than $173 million of this amount was spent in the three-month period between Oct. 1 and Dec. 21, 2008. The "piece de resistance" was a fluffery containing reworked material about the transit plan. Preparing this booklet was apparently beyond the skills of those employed in the city's communications department.
Politicians love to be able to tell ratepayers they're streamlining the bureaucracy and saving buckets of dough by reducing staff numbers. But unless there's an extremely tight control on contracting out, the FTE/equivalent (full-time employee) might be off the books but the savings might be nowhere to be found.
Taxpayers are already questioning the amount the city spends on outside services and consultants. Why can't this work be done by city staff ?
It would appear that too much authority has been delegated to department heads -- they can hire consultants without having to justify the need, nor do they have to disclose it at budget time. Yikes ! This would never happen in the private sector !
What are our beloved councillors doing to get a handle on these costs ? What are they doing to rein in the multi-million dollar expenditure on consultants and outside services ? What are they doing to ensure productivity increases at city hall ? Taxpayers have had to tighten their belts.
Let's see some belt-tightening at the municipal level.
Mayor Larry should get city hall staff together every morning in City Hall Plaza and lead them in chanting "Doing More With Less ! Doing More With Less !" while they perform jumping jacks and other exercises to get the blood flowing. Take a lesson from Japanese management !
Everywhere A Sign....
This little goodie is hanging on the wall at the San Diego Zoo:
"Please do not annoy. torment, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, persecute, irk, bullyrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize or ruffle the animals."
Substitute "taxpayers" for "animals" and you have a wonderful sign which could be hung in the council chamber -- as a little reminder for councillors to think before they spend.
And speaking of spending...
Councillor Diane Holmes (first elected in 1982) led the pack in expense account spending in 2008 -- leaving a paltry $41 of her $36,089 office budget unspent. The measly $41 will go back into the city budget. What a benefit for the taxpayers !
Her expenditures included $3,403 on receptions and luncheons. Inquiring minds want to know who got invitations to these receptions and luncheons, especially since Councillor Alex Cullen (first elected in 1991 and reportedly eyeing the mayor's chair) only spent $442 on lunches and receptions.
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