Study shows town of Digby has big staff; council will look at why

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
Published on February 5, 2014
Richard Ramsay presents a summary of the findings of the organizational review of the Town of Digby at the Digby Firehall on Monday, Feb. 3.
Jonathan Riley

(This is the first of a series of articles the Courier will be writing about the report.)

The organizational study of the town of Digby suggests staffing levels are high in the town.

The town has about 20 per cent more full-time staff overall than similar Nova Scotian towns and has twice as many public works staff, according to a study released Tuesday, Feb. 4.

Consultant Richard Ramsay compared Digby to the towns of Trenton, Middleton, Berwick and Shelburne.

While Digby has 17 full-time staff, Trenton has 13.5, Berwick and Shelburne have 13 and Middleton only has 12.

The biggest difference in staffing levels is in the public works department where Digby has 11 employees and the other three towns surveyed have only six.

The report does not recommend cutting staff but does recommend that the CAO find out why Digby is so different:

Recommendation S3:

It is recommended that the CAO determine the reason for the discrepancy between the staff levels of Public Works/ Water/ Wastewater services in Digby, compared with other comparable municipalities.

Digby mayor Ben Cleveland says the study is only a starting point for council.

“We want to drill down into these numbers and understand what they really mean,” said the mayor. “The towns all use different delivery models and they account for things differently.”

For example, the mayor says that the public works department in Digby does a lot of work in-house like replacing laterals and water mains—work which other towns contract out.

“The thought was long-term we would save money by doing the work ourselves,” said the mayor. “We’re going to look at that and see if it is working.

“And in terms of services like snow removal and street cleaning, we have been offering a Cadillac service,” he said. “Over the years people have asked for that level of service and we get a lot of comments about the quality of the service.”

Digby is the only town of the five surveyed that has a by-law enforcement officer but the mayor says other towns have employees doing that work as part of other jobs.

The mayor says council will be discussing the report’s recommendations and within the next few weeks will be setting timelines for implementing any changes.

Some of the changes will happen quickly, he says and some will take in to 2015.

“We have to remember that ultimately this report is about people; people are involved in every decision we make and so we have to make sure everyone is treated fairly and with respect,” he said.

Digby is on par, if bigger than some, by number of staff in the administration and finance.

Digby, like Berwick and Shelburne, employ five people to do that work, but Middleton only needs four and Trenton just three.

Digby has no staff under recreation or economic development while Trenton has 4.5 and Middleton, Berwick and Shelburne all have two.

The town also employees eight casual, part-time and seasonal employees: two crossing guards, three visitor information counselors, and two labourers in public works.

The report didn’t take into consideration Digby’s recreation staff because technically they aren’t town employees. The town and the Municipality of the District of Digby fund the Digby Area Recreation Commission fifty-fifty. DARC has six full-time employees.

The report also didn’t include the senior safety coordinator position, the Wharf Rat Rally manager position or the regional enterprise network position all of which are partially funded by the town.

The full report is available on the town of Digby’s website .