Powassan looking to increase municipal employee count

·3 min read

Powassan council wants to grow the municipal staff numbers by adding two employees as the municipality experiences some growth.

Mayor Peter McIsaac said an organizational report clearly identified that the town hall needs an administrative assistant and a treasurer.

While the treasury position would be new, the administrative assistant would replace an employee who McIsaac says left the job about six months ago.

Although council eventually agreed to start the process of filling both positions, it was a bumpy ride getting to that point.

Councillors Randy Hall and Debbie Piekarski suggested holding off on hiring the administrative assistant until the treasury position was filled.

The rationale for both councillors was the concern that hiring two people at once could result in other employees being displaced.

Piekarski also said the treasury duties were currently “distributed throughout the organization and we need to collectively bring them back to one office."

However, Coun. Markus Wand said it was important to fill both positions sooner than later.

Wand said the office staff need immediate help to get “things off their plate” since they've been splitting the duties that the former administrative assistant once did.

“Ideally, I think we should fill both positions very close together,” he said.

“It will take some of the load off the staff who need to do higher functioning activities. I fully agree with Councillor Piekarski (that) if we fill the treasury position it will take things off everyone's plate. I think it's the same with the administrative assistant as well.”

McIsaac reinforced Wand's position to hire an administrative assistant as soon as possible because the present workload was being carried out by too few people.

“I can't stress enough the need to replace our administrative assistant who left,” said the mayor.

McIsaac added “there's stress on our staff day-to-day to keep things moving” as the employees continue to perform the duties of the administrative assistant.

Piekarski then suggested if two employees were going to be hired, then while the treasurer would be a full-time permanent worker, she preferred that the administrative assistant position be filled by a temporary employee.

Piekarski said the right treasurer could take over many of the duties that senior employees were now doing and believed council might be “jumping the gun” by hiring a permanent, full-time administrative assistant at this time.

“I don't think we'll be able to get rid of that person if we have to,” added Piekarski.

In response, McIsaac said “I have no plans to hire someone (only) to fire them.”

McIsaac said the amount of work in the municipality has increased and cited the building and fire departments as two areas where there is more work.

Coun. Dave Britton said that while a temporary administrative assistant might be a solution, he believed the staff needed the support now.

With an eye to the future, Britton said the municipality had to lay the groundwork for succession planning in the short term.

“These two positions could very well be a big building block to the future for this community,” Britton said.

With the debate coming to an end, the full council agreed that staff would develop a list of duties for the administrative assistant position in time for the April 6 meeting of council in addition to developing the treasury position for the same meeting.

And just before the vote, Coun. Randy Hall suggested that once the municipality is ready to put someone in the treasury department, perhaps it can reach out to a head-hunting firm to help it identify potential treasurers.

The municipality has budgeted for both positions in this year's budget.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget