The City of Delta recently eliminated five positions in an effort to create a more efficient operation.
Through consolidation of operations at city hall, two positions were eliminated there, city manager Justin Clifton reports.
The city clerk is now taking on municipal court duties, the utility billing department is handling sales tax collections, and payroll has been moved to human resources.
"We had more people in positions than we had work to do," Clifton said. "Consolidation made a lot of sense and reduced two positions here in city hall."
The public works department had a vacancy they decided not to fill, Clifton continued, and a similar situation occurred when the police department opted not to replace a uniformed police officer.
At Bill Heddles Recreation Department, the leisure department — and the person who ran that department — were eliminated. The most popular leisure activities, such as the community dances, were moved to other rec center departments.
"These are tough decisions," Clifton said. "They impact families. I'm really proud of the fact that when we approach making those decisions, we don't make them on the basis of who knows who and who's connected and who's not because at the end of the day it impacts everybody the same. Someone is out of a job. We really try to make the decisions that make sense for the organization.
"I'm a taxpayer. I expect our governments to run efficiently and I expect this government to run efficiently and sometimes that means taking a long hard look even when the economy is not bad. We don't do it because we have to, we do it because it's right."
Clifton said the city's general fund is healthier than it was last year and the year before. Sales tax is on pace to be one of the best years since 2008.
"Unfortunately I think that's the mindset too often of local government — if the money's there, spend it. The truth is that's not the right approach. The right approach is to deliver value to the customer and if we can deliver that same value with fewer employees and save some of the taxpayer money, we may be able to solve some of our other challenges.
"We have things that haven't been addressed — road maintenance is just one of those issues. I'm not comfortable saying let's raise rates or ask for more taxes. Sometimes you have to do that, but the taxpayer should know we've done everything else first. This is part of our attempt to solve our own problems."
As the city officials begin to put together the 2014 budget, Clifton is at the helm of a new budget process, one that puts the focus on priorities, not just a bunch of numbers. To help identify priorities, surveys were recently mailed to 800 residents.
"If we're going to put money into something, should it be sidewalks? Trails? Downtown beautification?
"We sent out the surveys so we're not basing the decision on what we like or which department head is most
persuasive, but on what our customers are really asking for."
In addition to identifying priorities, the surveys will also provide a baseline performance matrix. "Follow-up surveys will then help tell us which of our stragies work and which don't," Clifton said.
Two different surveys were mailed randomly to two separate populations of 400 each. Clifton said the surveys have a slightly different focus. Where there is overlap, the questions are asked in a slightly different way. As soon as possible after the survey deadline of July 31, Clifton said he will share the results with city council and the public.blog comments powered by Disqus