Penticton & South Okanagan News
Staff cuts in Summerland
The Summerland Municipal Council announced official staffing cuts, following a meeting this morning.
Mayor Janice Perrino said they are not replacing some positions of people who have left or retired and there will also be some restructuring.
"No council member ever wants to do this, it's a horrible thing to do," she said. "We are not proud of this, and we realize we ruin people's lives by doing this."
The cuts and changes include not replacing the superintendent of public works, who is retiring at the end of January, not replacing the director of parks and recreation, who retired at the end of December, and also not replacing the deputy fire chief who left for another job.
The information systems coordinator position is being eliminated and they are laying off the public works secretary, an engineering technician and a water supply technician. The latter three are CUPE positions.
In addition they are laying off one IBEW staff, a groundsman/truckdriver.
Regarding restructuring, the city will add back a manager of financial services and will establish a new GIS database technician.
The person in the information systems position will move to the latter.
So technically, four people have been laid off, taking effect immediately, according to Perrino.
The staff cuts will save $500,000 the first year, which would equate to a 7 per cent tax increase, she said.
The reason for the cuts is the 2014 budget is very tight, with very little revenue coming in.
"We don't have any major projects right now, so this is the time to do it when we don't have extra revenue coming in," said Perrino.
Adding to the situation, is Summerland has a very small population base, with very few people moving there, meaning they can't build a tax base.
And almost every major project they have tried to bring to the district in the last 10 years has failed, according to Perrino.
The mayor said they are taking steps to rectify the situation by looking at solutions like selling gravel and a growth strategy.
She reiterated the staff that were cut were not at fault.
"We are not blaming anyone and we are taking clear note of our reality," she said. "We want the citizens of Summerland to know what we are going through and that we can't keep going in this direction."
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