Legislative and Governance Services department seeks appeals co-ordinator

A City of Red Deer department is seeking several more positions to handle hundreds of appeals and provide increased support to city council and committee members.

A City of Red Deer department is seeking several more positions to handle hundreds of appeals and provide increased support to city council and committee members.

Elaine Vincent, manager of Legislative and Governance Services, said during Tuesday’s operational budget discussions that her department of eight full-time employees and three temporary workers are handling an increasing workload.

She suggested one full-time appeals co-ordinator is needed to handle the more than 200 annual appeals filed through the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board and the Assessment Review Board.

Vincent said the city has set aside only $11,435 in salary dollars — or about a quarter of a full-time equivalent (FTE) position to look after the appeals process.

She also asked for a one full-time equivalent position for committee support.

The number of committees has doubled to 18 from nine in 2007.

Vincent also said that with so many committees, the light lunches budget needs to increase to $15,000 in 2011 from $5,000. Volunteers often work through their lunch and dinner hours to participate in these meetings, which sometimes occur weekly, she added.

And for the first time, the department is also seeking one half-time position for council support. In her report, Vincent said council is dealing with not only having to be present at more meetings than ever before, but they are requiring much more information.

Another half-time position is being sought for the Regional Assessment Review Board and at no cost to the city. The membership and hearing fees received from the partnering municipalities are able to pay all expense and training of the program, as well as part-time administrative support.

At Councillor Chris Stephan’s suggestion, Vincent said it’s possible the council and committee support positions could be rolled into one. The key is making sure that the position would work time-wise for both areas, she added.

Councillor Frank Wong also suggested that the city look into ways to cut back on council expenses as well.

“We should try to make an effort,” he said.

For one thing, each councillor has an annual spending budget of $29,549 which includes conference registrations of $1,180. The matter will be reviewed.

The total base budget is $1.857 million for the department including $1.84 million in expenses.

Vincent also asked for $25,000 for a consultant’s review of legal services. The city has been satisfied with the current contracted solicitor, but there has been no examination of things like workload or trends.

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