The city is looking to add more staff to its roster in the new year, including a clerk and a development co-ordinator.
Gayle Jackson has been Orillia’s clerk and chief administrative officer for eight years — a dual role that “has become untenable” as the city and its major projects have grown, staff wrote in a budget document that was discussed Wednesday during operating budget deliberations.
It noted council members have “expressed a desire to see a standalone city clerk.”
Staff have asked that a clerk be hired in 2022. That position would be in addition to the city’s existing deputy clerk and two assistant clerk positions.
The cost in 2022 would be $160,414, which would include salaries and wages ($126,542), benefits ($30,922) and costs associated with equipment such as a cellphone, laptop and computer software.
The total cost would be reduced to $64,554 in both 2023 and 2024. It includes, for those two years, salary and wages of $55,542 and benefits worth $10,922.
Coun. Jay Fallis asked what the average salary was for clerks in municipalities of a similar size.
Amanpreet Singh Sidhu, city solicitor and general manager of corporate services, said Orillia is offering a “competitive wage” for the position.
Staff also want to add a full-time development co-ordinator, referring to the role as “critical to oversee the implementation and construction of subdivision and site plan development projects within the city.” They cited the “significant volume of applications” being submitted to the city annually.
“It is evident with the current resources that review of the applications, responding to the applicants and inspection when the project begins construction have not been at an acceptable level of service for the development community,” staff wrote.
In 2022, that position would cost $125,644 ($97,037 salary, $24,854 labour burden and $3,753 in IT requirements). That figure is expected to dip slightly to $125,325 in 2023 but increase to $128,449 in 2024.
Fallis hoped the new hire would work on the affordable housing file, too, particularly as co-ordinator on that front.
“As much as we want to encourage housing, we want to encourage affordable housing to make sure we’re addressing issues of concern,” he said.
An affordable housing co-ordinator is not being considered as part of that position, said Ian Sugden, general manager of development services and engineering. If that’s a role the affordable housing committee wants to see created, he suggested a recommendation be made to council.
Fallis initially indicated he would vote against the hiring of a development co-ordinator.
“I just think the focus of the job description could be changed a bit,” he said. “It’s really important that our focus be on affordable housing rather than just projects in general.”
Mayor Steve Clarke noted some city departments need the extra help.
“I get nervous when I see a department and an individual stretched. I do believe this position is absolutely necessary,” he said, adding the employee would help with all forms of potential development, including affordable housing.
Fallis eventually changed his tune.
“I’m going to hesitantly support it, but I really think there is a need for us to focus on the affordable housing element rather than just housing in general,” he said.
Budget committee voted in favour of hiring for both positions.
The discussion was part of the first of two consecutive days of discussions about the city’s operating budget. The capital budget will be discussed next week. All decisions require ratification at a special council meeting Dec. 6.