City management gets a second look

The first in the News' City of Port Alberni management review series.

First of a series

The City of Port Alberni’s upcoming $50,000 management review is meant to follow through on election promises of transparency made by council, says city manager Ken Watson.

“They were saying that they were going to look hard at the number of staff and how much they’re paid,” said Watson. “They made those commitments and this is fulfilling those commitments to do a third-party unbiased review.”

Watson has been tasked to find a company to carry out the 2015 study. The terms of reference for the updated study will be similar to the report commissioned two councils ago, in 2011.That report was the Management Organization Structure and Management Compensation Review completed by Chris Green & Associates (CGA), a North Vancouver-based management consulting firm, for $31,091. The 2015 study will be “a review of the structure, a review of the benchmark pay,” Watson said.

The benefit of doing another study, Watson said, is that a different consulting firm will provide a different view.

“Every consultant’s going to have a different view of (the) appropriate structure… that’s much less numerical and much more philosophical.”

The point of hiring a consultant to do it, rather than Watson or someone else on staff doing it, is the neutrality.

“It needs to be done by somebody that’s separate from staff. That’s the credibility piece,” Watson said. If he made the phone calls and completed a review, it would be seen as no more than “just the guy that’s in charge of the status quo protecting his turf. That’s how it would be perceived.”

The 2011 report made 24 recommendations broken up by department. Of those, half were adopted by council and implemented by staff.

Next week: Reporter Katya Slepian breaks down recommendations from the 2011 report to see what has been implemented and what hasn’t.