No EcDev officer for South Dundas; staff in ‘big turmoil’ says Dep. Mayor

Deputy Mayor Jim Locke, seen here during a May 2014 council meeting, says the latest handling of staff replacements and reviews of job descriptions has got staff in turmoil. Council decided June 2, 2015 not to hire an economic development officer. (Cornwall Newswatch/File)

MORRISBURG – South Dundas has decided not to replace its economic development officer and will instead divvy up those responsibilities to existing staff.

Economic Development Officer Nicole Sullivan resigned Apr. 23 to take a position closer to home in Ottawa.

Deputy Mayor Jim Locke was clearly frustrated with the decision Tuesday night not to replace the EcDev employee.

“I don’t think council understands the internal workings of the office, and they never will, and it’s not their position to know that. That’s why we have a CAO,” Locke told Cornwall Newswatch.

Locke said the municipality could have advertised the position a month ago and “seen what we got and what we had to work with” and then decided whether to fill the vacancy. “It should have been done a month ago.”

Filling at least two municipal positions has been held up for at least a month as a review of job descriptions was ordered by council.

The deputy mayor says he gets the feeling the municipality wants to do a complete internal review. “It’s got staff in a big turmoil. Staff are very, very uneasy in this building (South Dundas Municipal Center)…that’s not a good thing.”

But the mayor feels the job of economic development was already being done by other departments.

“During the last half year my position has always been when a vacancy happens through resignation, retirement, that we take a really good look at it. The only thing we’ve really had to look at is the job descriptions and when I went through the job description, I felt myself, that a lot of the responsibilities were already being done by other members (of staff),” Delegarde said in an interview with Cornwall Newswatch.

“The residential and building of business and that sort of thing is already done in the planning department. Somebody’s looking for tax rates they’re going to go to the treasury department,” the mayor added.

Delegarde says possible new business looking to invest in South Dundas can access the investor’s profile from the municipality’s website.

The mayor concedes the municipality “didn’t really have any kind of a plan” with business retention and expansion.

She suggested during the council meeting three councillors that sit on business committees could be the avenue to bring business to South Dundas.

The council, which has never had a formally scheduled Committee of the Whole meeting (a committee of the entire council where decisions are not binding), will have one soon to figure out which departments will take on the economic development officer’s duties.

Mayor Delegarde says the money is still in the budget to fill the position should the municipality find itself in trouble down the road. “We might see that (after the Committee of the Whole meeting(s)) staff is not able to pick up the bits and pieces that are left,” she said.

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