South Stormont finance department taxed out

LONG SAULT – Staff in South Stormont’s finance department are logging hundreds of hours of unpaid personal time as well has maxing out overtime in a bid just to keep up, a situation one township councilwoman believes is a recipe for burnout.

A report at South Stormont’s Wednesday council meeting shows that the two-person department plus contracted staff hired to help out have amassed 795 personal, unpaid hours and are forecast to add another 162 days by the end of the year. That’s on top of the 70 hours (10 days) of overtime non-union staff are allowed to bank as holiday.

The fallout started this year after the previous director of finance, Cindy Piche, left in May to take a new job. Adding to that is the increased grant reporting and growth within the township, according to the report.

Interim Director of Finance Basia Ruta told council the department turnover and that loss of knowledge has had a “ripple effect” begging the question “how long is this sustainable?”

The problems in the finance department are also putting funding in jeopardy. “Finance is still focused on delivering a couple of 2019 reporting requirements to outside stakeholders,” the report states. It also missed out on applying for the first round of asset management grants.

Coun. Andrew Guindon suggested the township could contract out more help. But CAO Debi LucasSwitzer says the help they need – mainly a financial analyst – is in short supply in Ontario.

Coun. Jennifer MacIsaac says some of the risks are “quite concerning” and something may need to be done before 2021 budget time.

“One risk…(is) burnout and you look at our staff and how many personal hours that they’ve put in…that’s a huge concern for me as well,” MacIsaac said.

“That said, we still need the money to hire someone,” Mayor Bryan McGillis tittered. “Budget’s important.”