Special Council Meeting to discuss Organization Review

At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) Meeting on Monday, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracey Vaughan provided her recommendations for implementing the changes and additions proposed by consultant KPMG.  As mentioned in a previous post, these changes would cost around $1M and are major changes in structure and ways of working.  Tracey delivered her detailed report in time for Monday’s CoW meeting and for 2022 budget deliberations but despite a closed session meeting before the CoW meeting, Council were not ready to discuss it and voted to defer discussion to two more meetings on Thursday October 28: a closed session meeting at 4:00 pm and an open session at 6:00 pm.  My quick look at the published draft budget seems to indicate that the proposed changes are incorporated so this discussion would confirm (or otherwise) the new organization plus talk about the proposed change to the way Council  is organized around Coordinator roles.

Proposed Organization Chart
Chart details are extracted from the CAO report and the final version could well be different.
You can see a chart of the current organization here.

Proposed org chart Oct 2021
Proposed org chart Oct 2021

Click to enlarge chart

Re-structure summary

  • New Director of Legislative Services – presumably Brent Larmer gets to be the new director with new managers of By-Law Enforcement and Transformation Initiatives plus a new person to look after writing Grants and Policies.  Emergency management will move from reporting to the Fire Chief and instead report here.
  • The Corporate services department under Ian Davey loses responsibility for the Clerk but gets a new Manager of Procurement. 
  • A new Manager for the “Office of the CAO” to assist the CAO with administration and some departments like Communications, HR and Economic Development would report here.
  • The Planning and Development Department would split the planning function in two: Development Approvals and Long Range Planning.  In addition a Deputy Building Official would be hired.
  • The Works department would also have a division of work with one new manager of Infrastructure Planning as well as a manager of Capital Projects.
  • No changes are proposed for Community Services.
  • Some additional non-manager staff would be added:  Program Support Financial Analyst, Infrastructure Planning Analyst, Human Resources Analyst and Information Technology Analyst.
  • See links below for complete job descriptions of the proposed new staff.

Proposed Implementation

Two options are offered for implementation – both defer hiring the Manager of Transformation Initiatives and Program Support Financial analyst to July  2023 and both estimate tax impact.

  • All other staff additions would be effective July 2022 with the exception of the new Director of Legislative services which would be effective Jan 1, 2022. The report states: “The tax rate impacts are currently projected at 1.88% in 2022. However, staff have provided a closed session report to Council that identifies ways to reduce this levy impact in 2022, should they be endorsed by Council.”  OR
  • All other staff additions would be effective July 2022 with a July 1st start date, except the Infrastructure Planning Analyst (January 2024). The report states: “The tax rate impacts are projected at 1.63% in 2022”.

Other changes

  • More delegation of spending to Staff to reduce having to come to Council so often. Planned for 2022 when Manager of Procurement is hired.
  • Pursue funding through Provincial Modernization Fund for E-Permitting project, an HRIS system, a Customer Service Strategy, and support for Asset Management Implementation.
  • Consider discontinuing the Council Coordinator role of governance for a committee structure – for possible implementation by the new Council following the 2022 elections.
  • Develop an action plan for the implementation of process changes related to the Organizational Review. This would include a work plan for Divisions that will include an annual progress report to Council.

The above will be discussed in detail at the meetings on October 28 – stay tuned at Cobourg News Blog for an update from the Public meeting.


Town Documents

Previous Reports on Cobourg News Blog

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27 October 2021 10:31 pm

Can anyone tell me whether DM Sequins question – “why each new position was necessary” was answered by KPMG/CAO?

Reply to  Gerinator
28 October 2021 7:19 am

The reasons are well explained in the report just read it!

Reply to  ben
28 October 2021 12:43 pm

Thanks for your confirmation.

27 October 2021 7:01 pm

I don’t think throwing money at the problem will fix anything in Cobourg….another excuse. We need qualified people that will be responsible for their work.

Reply to  cornbread
28 October 2021 10:30 am

It’s not throwing money, it’s properly resourcing the town to be more effective and efficient.

27 October 2021 5:59 am

 so this discussion would confirm (or otherwise) the new organization plus talk about the proposed change to the way Council is organized around Coordinator roles.”

Don’t bet on it, my money is a spirited exchange in the closed meeting where a modified version of reorganisation with the oddball new hires, managers of “new stuff I don’t understand” will be postponed and a really vigorous convo about the role of “coordinators” vs a robust committee system where all councillors can be as knowledgable as each other instead of being Royalty in their Fiefdoms (portfolios)! Then a muted discussion in public which will probably rubber stamp the motions that were not allowed to be made in private.

Bottom line: the Citizens of Cobourg will not really know where each Cllr stands, and why, on this necessary but costly renewal. I just hope that I am wrong on this speculation.

Reply to  ben
27 October 2021 8:35 am

The idea of hirering more as you put it Oddballs , probably local and related of course is absolutely scary . But then it is Halloween !
This whole process just adds another layer of red tape and excuses for why every thing takes so long . I can’t count the number of times I have asked questions of the councilor holding the appropriate portfo for an update , and quite simply they don’t know , they apparently don’t even have the wright in some cases to ask or enter the realm of their department
with out consent . Information is contained and concealed , and only once a decision has been made do they hear about it . Recently a Department head who took leave and appointed their lessor but qualified person to oversee and run things for a term Returned only to over turn a lot of decisions made in their absence at huge expense and time to the applicants .
More is never better On the Ball up to date is what we need .

Gerald Childs
Reply to  Sandpiper
27 October 2021 9:04 am

Once again, you state counsellors are not permitted to enter staff working areas. “they apparently don’t even have the wright in some cases to ask or enter the realm of their department. And now this statement: “Information is contained and concealed, and only once a decision has been made do they hear about it .

Again where is your citation? I have posted the first question to you before and it was not answered. Sandpiper fess up or stop posting untruths.

Reply to  Gerald Childs
27 October 2021 10:02 am


I agree with you in part.
Councilors (and the public) can “enter staff working areas” and ask for information. They can not “direct” staff to do anything. Also, it is not “their department”. Councilors are not staff members or management. Staff is responsible for operations, Council is responsible for policy, oversight and representing the residents. All of this is clearly set out in the municipal act.

Sandpiper wrote “…asked questions of the councilor holding the appropriate portfolio for an update, and quite simply they don’t know…” He would likely accomplish more if he asked the department manager or director, not the councilor. If the department staff don’t respond adequately, he should take his concerns to the CAO.

Just as in the private sector, you take your concerns, questions and issues to the department staff and escalate if your not satisfied. You don’t start with the board of directors.

Reply to  Bryan
28 October 2021 5:00 pm

From how you describe it, why don’t they do what Doug Ford did and just cut Council in half? Sounds like all they are are talking heads. Use the money to hire more By-law Officers. We need them.

Last edited 1 year ago by Kathleen
Reply to  ben
27 October 2021 12:29 pm

Really? What do they normally go into closed session about? “Oddball” hires? Or maybe staff cuts and councillors don’t want to have friends lose jobs? The open report talks about cost savings found in the closed session report could they not be talking about that? Instead of speculating and creating anger why don’t we wait and see? Oddball hires, what is wrong with having staff who take care of long term planning. The only position I would say isn’t needed is Transformation. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t make it oddball. I would argue we and in the predicament we are in because we have no long term planning, strategic or otherwise, capability. Every business has it many of you complain we aren’t run like a business well long term strategic planning is key to any successful business! Grant and Policy writer, we have policies that have been out of date for years or haven’t even been created? HR, I worked in that field for many years and those who understand how much work is involved know two staff are not enough. Everyone screams about by-law not getting back to them there are two staff with one on at each shift, when one isn’t on vacation or sick. Anyway rant over, take a deep look before we just whine and complain or we see what is actually going on.

Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 12:32 pm

Explain which positions add more red tape? By-law? Adds additional staff to help? HR/Finance additional staff to help with workload maybe? Long term planning? How does having long term planning add red tape? Explain where the additional red tape is?

Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 4:09 pm

Let me say to concerned that I understand more than most exactly what is in the report – I have read it all, and what can and cannot be discussed in private. Also having been on previous councils I also know the dynamics of councillors discussing all things in private and then saying nothing when they come out of closed sessions.

Just for the record I support completely all of the reorganisation and say that if the “oddball” hires – these are hires that will have to explained to Councillors and the public because the concept of the new work needed to drag the Municipality into the present, may not be understood by “taxfighters”, are phased in over a couple of budget periods then the total cost will be cheaper.

Reply to  ben
27 October 2021 4:35 pm

I know your experience, I was just surprised by your oddball comment it made you appear to not be in support of this. I like you believe these changes are required to put the town in a better position.

26 October 2021 8:42 pm

It’s 2021 folks and we deserve better.
You can’t reasonably present a new Org Chart for a $1mm when less than 1% of the taxpayers understood the old one. Will the new chart mean any of the new roles will actually pick up the phone when we call them?

The Job Descriptions are really from the 1990’s and with all respect to KPMG are shameful…
Under responsibilities–you see phrases like:
-works with…
-assists the…
-identifies the…
-provides support to….”
The lack of expectation and specificity almost guarantees us all the perpetuation of mediocrity.
Am I wrong?

Lets—mercifully–have some respect for the citizens intelligence and at minimum, put in some real Key Performance Indicators or minimum standards:
(ie) provides detailed reporting on actual budget variances with 48 hours of month end.”
Something with some actual expectation of REAL performance….


Old Sailor
Reply to  Dunkirk
26 October 2021 9:39 pm

Dunkirk: I agree with your sentiment. And if the Town is hiring more staff, lets hire the most qualified candidate. Period!

Reply to  Old Sailor
27 October 2021 12:38 pm

I agree qualified staff are required enough of the hiring friends and family members. It’s nice to see the last 3 or 4 big hires were open completion. Unfortunately no qualified people from Cobourg made the cut. That isn’t always a bad thing.

Reply to  Dunkirk
27 October 2021 9:15 am

I tend to agree with you also, Dunkirk. For example, in my reading of the proposed job description for a Manager of Long-Range Planning the qualification requirements are inadequate to support the stated list of roles and responsibilities.

Reply to  Dunkirk
27 October 2021 12:36 pm

Okay so your big complaint is about job descriptions. Those are not town of Cobourg JDs, they are examples to give council an idea of what these positions would do. My understanding is the town does not have a performance management function so it may explain why the CAO directed they go out and get an HRIS system, a good one will have a performance management system a self service option that would allowed would accurate tracking of vacation time, sick leave etc. so before you jump on people think a little more.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 2:34 pm

Concerned, sadly they are examples of meaningless job descriptions rather than descriptions that provide quantifiable measures of performance. How does one measure and award appropriately the performance of someone who co-ordinates, works with, assists, identifies, etc.?

Perhaps I am unduly trusting but I assumed that Cobourg has had a system to track vacation time and sick leave for eons. Are you suggesting that they do not?

Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 October 2021 2:42 pm

Im suggesting that since they want an HRIS system they do not have a reliable system in place yes. As they are not Town of Cobourg JDs chances are they will create there own. But it sounds like we have experts here at that who would be more than willing to do it for them.

Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 2:50 pm

Their own not there own 🤦‍♂️

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 3:18 pm

I’m shocked that any sizable employer is unable to track vacation/sick time. So what is done? Just ignore the lack or…? If you are correct it is little wonder that some here have complained that their phone calls go unanswered!

Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 October 2021 3:31 pm

Or this is why they need a customer service policy with stated standards, as stated in the CAOs report. Then maybe they can hold staff accountable.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 October 2021 3:35 pm

It’s not just about tracking, its about accurate and timely. An HRIS system is real-time and allows you to run Corporation, departmental or individual reports and you can see who isn’t taking vacation and ensure unnecessary carryover isn’t occurring. It would be interesting to see how much carryover some of the more senior people (in terms of time with the corporation) have.

Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 3:41 pm

The other piece to it is having the performance management program which allows you to assess your employees as you may or may not know. It would be interesting to know if they’ve had an assessment program for employees at this point and your JDs would be created in this system.

Reply to  Ken Strauss
27 October 2021 3:51 pm

Oh and one correction, I didn’t say they don’t track, I said accurately track.

Ken Strauss
Reply to  Concerned
27 October 2021 6:49 pm

I consider inaccurate tracking to be worse than no tracking.