Red Deer’s Coun. Lawrence Lee (contributed photo).

Red Deer councillors question the city paying “double management salaries” during training

Vesna Higham and Lawrence Lee suggest finding alternatives

Why is the City of Red Deer paying newly hired managers a year’s salary or more to job-shadow the people they are replacing?

That’s the question posed by a couple of Red Deer city councillors at Wednesday’s operating budget meeting.

Coun. Vesna Higham wondered about the fiscal wisdom of “paying double management salaries” for extended periods.

The new public works superintendent will be collecting pay, as will as the retiring superintendent he’s replacing, in both 2018 and 2019. This amounts to an additional respective cost to the city of $150,000 and $152,000 over the two years.

“I agree that some job shadowing is important, especially in a very highly specialized field,” Higham added, but paying double salaries significantly impacts the bottom line.

She suggested looking for alternatives — as did Coun. Lawrence Lee, who expressed different reasons for concern.

If the city’s main way of training is job-shadowing, what happens if existing managers, some at retirement age, have health emergencies and are unavailable to continue in their jobs, he asked.

Lee feels it would be far more prudent to develop a systematic approach, where details of the job are well documented, allowing a new manager to refer to written material, videos, or procedural templates.

While city council supported paying the additional salary for the person taking over the “complex” public works position, Lee said further discussions on job training are planned within the human resources department.

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