Five years after a major shake up at Kelowna City Hall that saw a total re-organization of how the civic bureaucracy operates, another major change has been made.
City manager Ron Mattiussi has dropped the general manager system he put in place in 2008, where there existed a small executive team and a larger leadership team one level below that.
“Over the last five years it became apparent the leadership team was too big and the executive team (general managers) was too small,” said Mattiussi.
Now seven departments—some made up of a combination of what were, until last week, separate departments—will report directly to him, while a new group, called strategic services, will be formed and report to the city’s new deputy city manager Paul Macklem.
Macklem, a former city finance department head and most recently Kelowna’s general manager of corporate sustainability, returned to the city after a year’s secondment to the Central Okanagan Regional District, where he ran CORD until a new chief administration officer was found.
Mattiussi told the Capital News Wednesday the changes at city hall went into effect Tuesday and he described them as more a “tweak” than the re-organization that turned the structure at city hall “upside down” in 2008.
The biggest change is the elevation of Macklem to the new position of deputy city manager and the creation of the new strategic services group, that will be headed by former community services general manager John Vos.
The new group will include the airport, regional services, business development and the fire department and part of its mandate will be to work on projects where the city can generate revenue apart from the taxes it collects from property owners each year.
“Municipal government is more complicated now,” said Mattiussi. “We do a lot more than we used to and we need much more flexibility.”
Mattiussi gave the example of the recent deal with Interior Health to move its workforce downtown as the sort of project the new group would work on.
“In that case, we turned a new parkade into an opportunity to get as many as 1,000 more people working downtown,” he said. “I see that as an investment in downtown.”
That deal calls for Interior Health to build a new office tower at the corner of St. Paul Street and Doyle Avenue to consolidate its Kelowna workforce.
As part of the plan, the city will build a new parkade across the street and expand the existing Library parkade at total cost of about $20 million.
“We see the (IHA) plan as economic development,” he added.
Mattiussi also pointed to the recently completed deal with Fortis B.C. that saw the company buy the assets of the city’s electric utility for $50 million.
The city will invest that money in Fortis to generate returns while avoiding the cost of maintaining and repairing the electric utility’s equipment over the next 20 years.
The seven departments that will now report directly to Mattiussi—instead of a departmental general manager—are community planning and real estate, headed by Doug Gilchrist, infrastructure, headed by Vos until he hires a divisional director, civic operations, headed by Joe Creron, active living and culture, headed by Jim Gabriel, corporate and protective services, headed by Rob Mayne, communications and information services, headed by Carla Weaden and human resources and corporate performance, headed by Stu Leatherdale.
Both Gilchrist and Mayne filled in for Macklem as corporate sustainability general manager when Macklem was at the regional district.
Mattiussi said the public will not see a change in how services are delivered but the new corporate structure at city hall will result in cost savings, more flexibility for the city and better efficiently.
He said while there will not be any layoffs as a result of the plan and could not think of any employee who would be downgraded as a result, he said part of the point of the reorganization in the first place was to deal with succession planning.
A large number of senior city staff, including Mattiussi, who is 57, are expected to retire in 2016.