North Cowichan plans to hire four new staff members in 2018, with total expenditures to the municipality of $269,000.
At a special council meeting regarding next year’s budget on Dec. 18, council decided to hire a technical services specialist ($82,000), a community planner ($93,200), a planner ($46,600), and a human resources generalist ($46,600).
Both the planner and the human resources generalist positions are considered half-year hires in 2018.
The new positions were recommended as a result of lengthy analysis of the municipality’s current staffing resources and greatest areas of need, according to a staff report.
“Portions of the positions will be funded through savings realized by two vacant management positions over 2017,” said the report.
Mayor Jon Lefebure said he realizes there are some concerns in the public about hiring new staff, but the need for additional employees reflects the increasing amount of work current staff have to contend with.
“North Cowichan is known as a lean and mean municipality and we are on the low end of the scale for the size of our staff and the amount of work they do compared to the size of our population.”
Lefebure said a technical services specialist is required because North Cowichan’s information services department is facing growing pressure to protect against evolving cyber-security threats and maintaining the municipality’s server and network infrastructure as more municipal services are being managed digitally.
He said the human resources department has been operating at minimal capacity for numerous years as well, and is facing increasing demand for services due to external pressures, including expanding legal and regulatory requirements for employers.
Currently, there are 3.5 staff in North Cowichan’s HR Department supporting 420 employees.
Of the two planning positions, only one position is entirely new.
The other is to replace the current community planning coordinator, Natasha Horsman, who is being realigned to focus on community engagement and strategic initiatives for North Cowichan.
“The new position in development services is needed to respond to increasing community and council expectations related to community and neighbourhood planning,” said the staff report.
“This could include many types of projects, ranging from expanding our active transportation networks, developing neighbourhood plans, pursuing affordable housing, and building relationships with community associations and schools.”