Shake-up at the top? Senior city staff undergoes change

By Gerry Barker

From the GuelphSpeaks Guelph file

Posted October 7. 2015

The city is advertising for a Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, (DCAO) to oversee Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise (IDE).

The salary range being offered is $163,993 to $204,992.

Is this a new hire to replace the incumbent, DCAO Derrick Thomson, or to redefine the organization at the top? Or is it another layer of executive management to an already bloated city staff?

Did city council approve this position? If so, citizens should ask which councillors voted for the staff addition and which voted against it?

Another element is the recent hiring of a general manager of the environment. Translated it means the new man inherits the failed waste management system of the previous administration. His salary range tops out at just under $100,000.

Last November, filling the void of the departed Janet Laird and Derek McCaughan, seems not to have worked out as planned when the executive staff level was chopped from five to three. The three remaining executives, Mark Amorosi, Al Horsman and Derrick Thomson were given a five per cent salary increase. In addition, they were appointed DCAO’s. This was to provide more money commensurate with more responsibility.

Well, at the least, we are guaranteed that we’ll never run out of Chief Administrative Officers.

Mr. Horsman was Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and in the November 2014 shuffle, he took over waste management, planning and engineering, officially titled: Infrastructure, Development and Enterprise. His previous job was filled last March with the hiring of Janice Sheehy as city Treasuer and General Manager of Finance.

The city has operated for almost a year without a CFO. Given the tangled web of the city’s finances where money has been arbitrarily shifted around to meet unexpected legal costs and settlements, why has there not been a new CFO named?

In September, Horsman resigned to take over as CAO of Sault Ste Marie. Mr. Thomson assumed his responsibilities in addition to running the city operations staff and Guelph Transit.

The City of Guelph is a citizen-owned corporation with an estimated book value of more than $500,000,000, yet does not have a CFO. The interim report revealed in June about the financial position of the city showed the budget had been exceeded by more than $1 million.

Small potatoes, one may conclude, in a multi-million dollar operational budget. It reveals the weakness of poor budget forecasting, bad execution and spending too much money in the wrong places.

And luck had nothing to do with it.

Look no further that the 3.96 per cent increase in property taxes, in this year’s budget, for evidence that the city finances are not being managed well. It was the greatest tax increase since 2010. Only Mayor Cam Guthrie and four councilors had the courage to vote against it.

The part to worry about is the lack of cost containment that the administration and majority of council support. It is as if there was no election last October.

The same players and elected councillors are carrying on with the spendthrift policies of the previous administration. That’s the one the voters rejected by the thousands.

The upcoming 2016 budget discussions and planning are of great importance to the citizens. Emboldened by the huge property tax increase last March, there is growing evidence of another big tax increase exceeding 3 per cent for 2016.

How can anyone stop excessive taxation? Let your councillor know, not once, not twice but three times that you expect him or her to contain costs and keep the tax increase to no more than 2.5 per cent.

They do listen.




Filed under Between the Lines

5 responses to “Shake-up at the top? Senior city staff undergoes change

  1. Glen N. Tolhurst

    The shell game continues with personnel being shuffled around, some fading away, & newbies being sought. The strange thing in the recruitment profile for the new DCAO is that no professional qualification, such a Professional Engineer or Chartered Professional Accountant, is required. Is that because no professional would join the city hall circus or the incumbents are afraid of bringing a professional into their mix?
    Just wondering.


    Glen:Hiring for the engineering department should be restricted to the Inca bridge builders I’m sure they’d be able to design a railway bridge from rope that would allow large trucks to pass beneath WYNDHAM railway overpass and if they ran into it no damage would ensue.

  3. Glen N. Tolhurst

    David: Did you serve with the RCEME or Airborne? It has been said that civil engineers build bridges whilst mechanical engineers destroy them. :>)
    BTW.. there is a video circulating on the net showing drones building a rope bridge which shows technology would put the Inca builders on the “dole”.


    Glen:What you’ve said may be true,but I reckon the Inca “gods” just haven’t provided them with the drone technology.I’d drone on ad infinitum but why should I waste your time while you’re pining for Execution(oops)Election Day and busily sewing those potato sacks which you’ll wear at the polling place(PS-don’t forget to wear a thimble whilst sewing fastidiously)

  5. Glen N. Tolhurst

    And post election, you will wear “sack cloth” as you do penance for supporting the wrong party. :>)

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