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RMWB Announces Organizational Realignment

An Important Step Toward Building a Fiscally Responsible 2017 Operating Budget

 

(Fort McMurray, AB – January 31, 2017, 10 a.m.) – The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo announced the implementation of an organizational realignment today. This realignment is just one step the Organization is taking toward building a fiscally responsible 2017 Operating Budget and 2018-2019 Financial Plan. The Organization has been realigned with the goal of maintaining the level of service to citizens, while ensuring wildfire recovery work and public safety is not affected.

“With the economic slowdown in oil sands growth, the impact of the 2016 wildfire and the changes to the Modernized Municipal Act (Bill 21), 2017 will be a challenging year for the organization.  While efforts have been made to limit impacts on employees, unfortunately, this realignment has resulted in a change in staffing levels.  I want to thank the employees affected by these changes for their contributions to our organization.

As we work through these changes, we want to reassure the public that we remain committed to fulfilling our regular service level obligations and continued recovery efforts,” said Annette Antoniak, Interim Chief Administrative Officer.

“Changes like this in an organization are never easy,” said Mayor Melissa Blake. “I want to thank all those affected employees for their contributions and time of service to the community. As we realign our operations, we remain committed to working with our community partners, industry, and the Government of Alberta, to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities ahead. Through collaboration we will find balanced and sustainable solutions.”

Organizational Realignment Highlights

  • A total of 168 positions are being eliminated, at a projected annual savings of $24.2 million; Efforts were made to reduce impacts on employees. Many of the positons eliminated were already vacant, and the number of employees receiving lay off notices or severance packages is approximately 100.
  • The one-time severance costs are estimated at $2.3 million for exempt employees.
  • Under the Collective Agreement, CUPE 1505 members also have the option to take severance. It’s unknown at this time what that figure will be.
  • Efforts were made to avoid impacts on core operations and recovery efforts.
  • The organizational structure is flatter overall, with less supervisors and directors; departments have been combined where it made sense.

Municipal administration will now begin an intense review of the 2017 Operating Budget with an aim to present to Council before the end of the first quarter. In parallel, the joint RMWB Industry Steering Group will continue its work to define the strategy, scope, timeframe, and monitoring process for transitioning to Bill 21 as a recommendation to the Government of Alberta.

Updates on the 2017 Budget process and the Bill 21 transition planning will be posted at www.rmwb.ca as they are available.

Media Conference – January 31, 2017, 10 a.m.

Highlights:

  • Organizational Realignment reduces RMWB’s annual operating costs by $24.2 million
  • Over the course of five years, RMWB will see a savings of $121 million
  • Essential services will be maintained
  • No impact on the recovery and rebuild work
  • 168 full-time positions eliminated, including 92 exempt positions (18 per cent of total exempt positions), and 76 CUPE positions (six per cent of total CUPE positions)
    • 46 of the 168 positions eliminated were vacant
    • Senior leadership positions reduced from 25 to 12
    • Some departments combined to improve efficiencies
  • CAO and RMWB staff now must finalize the 2017 Operating Budget and 2018-19 Financial Plan, working together to find efficiencies
  • 2017 Operating Budget and 2018-19 Financial Plan will be presented to Council by the end of the first quarter of 2017
  • RMWB needs to address some significant fiscal challenges: the  economic downturn in the oil sands will continue to have an impact on our assessment base; recovery from the wildfire has increased expenses in a number of areas; and the potential impacts of Bill 21 on our ability to assess and set rates for rural nonresidential taxes
    • Bill 21 proposes capping the ratio between the highest and lowest tax rate at 5:1. Current ratio is 18:1 (rural non-residential to rural residential)
    • While there is a grandfathering provision in the proposed legislation, future regulations could require the RMWB to reduce rural non‐residential tax rates. The grandfathering only exists until the regulations and technical amendments are determined by GOA.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Communications and Stakeholder Relations
media@rmwb.ca

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