Three new positions for the Town of Hinton were recommended for approval by council to maintain existing service levels.
The three positions require an increase of $99,447 to 2019 resources.
“These are so urgent for me that I did not want to wait for the budget,” stated CAO Martin Taylor, during the standing committee meeting on July 16.
As part of the organizational efficiency and effectiveness review, Taylor conducted interviews with council members and administrative staff to gain an understanding of the organization and to identify opportunities for improvements.
That review supported the requirements of the positions and they were identified as priority positions by the CAO to address emerging issues. The positions include a maintenance technician, an HR advisor, and a Level 1 community peace officer.
Coun. Dewly Nelson felt more information on the level of service of a peace officer was needed and suggested bringing back the position to the budget 2020 presentations.
Taylor explained that currently two Hinton peace officers work a lot of overtime hours and an added officer would only help to maintain the level of service.
“In that particular type of work, burnout is quite high so I’m always quite mindful of people who wear the uniform. They’re not the types to say no to work but there is a point where two peace officers isn’t considered high for a town of this size,” he said.
One more officer would help alleviate the time of the other two officers when they take holidays, sick leave, training, evenings, and weekends, said Todd Martens, Protective Services Manager.
The urgency to approve the peace officer position was due to new officers needing to go through training before they can start, which only happens once per year in September.
“Asking our current peace officers to wait another year to find that position, I’m not prepared at all to do that. It needs to be within these three essential components for our community. I hear all the time in our community peace officers aren’t around as often as they need them,” said Coun. Trevor Haas.
Haas added that another person would also be able to alleviate some of the calls and open them up to work more proactively.
“The other place I struggle is that I don’t know what a CP level 1, versus level 2, versus animal control, I don’t know what options we have,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson.
A new bylaw position was created in 2019 and funding another position outside of the 2020 budget is not something Nelson felt he could approve.
Martens stated that the position isn’t new, but that previously the funding came through the photo radar program and they are now seeking funding through council. Council recommended administration bring forward a budget amendment to include the increase enabling them to pursue all three positions.
In the past, all three positions were requested during the 2019 Budget process, alongside five others. At that time, all position requests were deferred until the Organizational Efficiency and Effectiveness Review was completed on May 10.
The review stated that the town has insufficient resources in several departments to support objectives defined in the 2018-2021 Strategic Plan.
Council finally recommended the mayor call a special meeting of council on July 30 to include the resource increase request, as well as the land use bylaw #1088-8 and the IDP discussion.