Richmond CAO confirms two positions eliminated

    ARICHAT: Richmond County’s incoming Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) has confirmed that two municipal staff positions have been eliminated as the result of an organizational review of the county’s operations that got under way this past spring.

    Louis Digout, who assumed his interim CAO’s role last week, told The Reporter Monday morning that the municipality has cut the operations coordinator position within its Department of Public Works, as well as the post of coordinator of information technology services and administrative support. He added that council came to an agreement to drop these positions in late May.

    “The information that everybody knows is that two positions have been eliminated,” said Digout, who added that he understands that the implementation of this portion of the operational review was carried out in a transparent fashion.

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    “I’m of the understanding that the elimination of the two positions was done publicly by council, and that they tabled whether they would do anything or implement the remainder of the [organizational review] report.”

    While the interim CAO added that Richmond’s elected councillors are still discussing the next steps of the organizational review, currently being carried out by SLP Development Services, he did not have a sense on the exact trajectory this process will take over the coming weeks and months.

    “As far as what else is going to happen out of this, what the contents of the report are, is it going to be accepted by council and how they’re going to proceed, I don’t think those decisions have been made yet,” said Digout, adding: “I don’t know the timeframe for bringing the community up to speed on what occurred.”

    In the meantime, Digout suggested that he comprehends the line of thinking that led to the January hiring of SLP Development Services under the county’s public procurement process to conduct a full operational review of the county’s non-elected positions.

    “We wanted to look at the organization, because the commercial assessment base is changed and reduced significantly [due to the end of the tax arrangement with] Port Hawkesbury Paper,” Digout recalled.

    According to figures provided by Digout’s predecessor Maris Freimanis in January, the Richmond County organizational review carries a price tag of $22,400, with council also covering expenses totaling $2,060 plus the resulting Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) involving the company’s work.

    Freimanis was the CAO of the Town of Port Hawkesbury when the same company carried out a similar review in mid-2015, resulting in the elimination of 2.5 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions from the town’s staff grid and a complete overhaul of job descriptions in the remaining 24 FTE posts.

    Shortly after SLP Developmental Service Incorporated carried out its Port Hawkesbury staff review nearly two years ago, Freimanis stated that 18 existing town employees fit into the new municipal staff roles but added that the town issued working notice to other staffers that “didn’t align with the new organization,” rather than providing a full severance package to any of the affected employees.

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    Adam Cooke has been a staff writer and columnist for The Reporter since 1999. A native of L’Ardoise, Adam lives in Port Hawkesbury with his wife Cathy.