The chief administrative officer at the District of Lake Country says he has had the full support of the past two councils in Lake Country to move forward with a restructuring plan that, when finished, will see the district cut back 9.5 staff positions since 2012.
Alberto De Feo says not only have the moves had support around the council table, they have been designed to make the district a more streamlined operation and put more money towards infrastructure in the growing community.
De Feo was reacting to criticism of the district’s restructuring plan, a three-phase plan that began in 2012 and is in its final phase currently, with the last of the staff cuts underway.
“This may be new to Lake Country but restructuring and change have become part of local government in B.C. and Canada,” said De Feo.
“Times are changing. We cannot do business like we did 20 years ago. It is not by adding staff when needed but by being strategic about it. The district is now equipped to deal with the serious challenges we are facing in the community.”
Among those challenges are an infrastructure shortfall in the community that has long-term planning underway to improve roads and water systems while dealing with a shortfall in tax income due to a lack of commercial taxpayers, according to De Feo.
Last month the district came under fire when former administrator Randall Rose appeared before council and criticized the latest staffing cuts that will see some long-time employees leaving their positions. Rose claimed the cost of the restructuring was $1 million and balked at district claims that there is a net savings for the district. He said the moves leave Lake Country without enough staff to operate in a growing community.
“They are not going to be able to meet the demand,” said Rose.
“I understand you want to make some savings but I also know how much work is involved in many of the initiatives the district is working on. A lot of the day to day work is not going to disappear. You can say we are restructuring but unless you have the people to do the work then you haven’t saved anything.”
With severance negotiations still underway De Feo wouldn’t comment on the final cost of restructuring but hinted the initial round of cuts in 2012 may total about $600,000.
Severance negotiations remain underway with the employees affected in last month’s cuts but De Feo says all severance packages are being paid out in continuous pay to the former employees with the money already budgeted for so there is no effect on Lake Country operations due to money being paid out.
He says money saved from the 2012 changes has gone into capital projects.
“In 2012 we could only spend $300,000 from property taxes on capital projects in Lake Country,” said De Feo.
“In the last two years we have doubled that amount to $600,000 because of the savings form the first review. The annual capital expense for roads in 2010 was a meager $70,000.
“Because of the savings we were able to raise that number to $450,000 in the last two years.”
As for Rose, he denied his public comments were political and said he wasn’t planning to run for Lake Country council although he said he had suggested some people step forward and run for council in this year’s civic elections