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A closer look at the Administration and Finance division

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This week marks Local Government Week, which is being promoted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario, and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario as a time for the public to learn more about municipal government.

This is the second in a series of articles describing the roles and responsibilities of council and the town’s four divisions—Administration and Finance, Community Services, Operations and Facilities, and Planning and Development.

The Administration and Finance division organizational structure starts with the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), who for the Town of Fort Frances is Mark McCaig.

He is the senior manager responsible for bringing together and overseeing the various municipal departments. In particular, the CAO makes sure the advice and recommendations given by staff to council are balanced.

He also is part of the Administration and Finance executive committee, which consists of Couns. Sharon Tibbs (chair), Paul Ryan, and Ken Perry.

The Municipal Act, 2001 has set out the general management duties of municipal administration. The duty of the CAO is to exercise general control and management of the affairs of the municipality for the purpose of ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the municipality, and perform other duties as are assigned by the municipality.

Primary responsibilities include:

•directing the day-to-day affairs of the municipality in accordance with council-approved plans and policies;

•organizing the operations and activities of the municipality into departments, bureaus, or other administrative agencies subject to the final approval by council;

•facilitating the budget process (including capital) for submission to council and bearing the responsibility for its administration after adoption;

•attending all council and committee meetings, and making observations and suggestions;

•recommending to council the appointments of heads of all departments;

•appointing and removing staff members subject to personnel bylaws and the provisions of any collective bargaining agreements entered into between the municipality and unions or associations and its staff; and

•submitting regular reports to council on the operations and activities of municipal departments.

After the CAO in the Administration and Finance organizational structure comes Clerk Glenn Treftlin, Human Resources manager Christine Ruppenstein (although Brian Hagarty currently is filling in as interim HR manager while she’s on maternity leave), Information Technology manager Darryl Allan, and Treasurer Laurie Witherspoon.

Some of these positions have yet more staff under them, ranging from administrative assistants, secretaries, receptionists, a tax collector, a POA co-ordinator, a payroll clerk, and public utilities clerk, among many others.

The office of the clerk is the central clearing house for municipal information, including the keeping of all records for the municipality. The clerk prepares the agenda for council meetings and the minutes that report the results of such meetings.

The clerk’s office also carries out a number of duties directed by provincial legislation, such as registration of deaths and issuing marriage license

Under the Municipal Act, the duty of the clerk is to:

•Record without note or comment all resolutions, decisions, and other proceedings of council;

•If required by any member present at a vote, to record the name and vote of every member voting on any matter or question; and

•Keep the originals or copies of all bylaws and of all minutes of the proceedings of council.

As Information Technology manager, Allan mainly is involved with maintaining the servers, network, and computers used by the employees of the Town of Fort Frances. Among his duties are troubleshooting any issues that users may have using computers and printers, and accessing network resources such as shared folders and e-mail.

He also has a variety of responsibilities that are not normally part of what you might think of as information technology-related.

This includes arranging for municipal insurance coverage, records management, doing public presentations, working with council on its strategic plan, and serving as the public information officer for the Emergency Control Group.

(As a point of interest, Allan has been with the town for more than 31 years, and in that time, has been a history researcher at the library, museum director/curator, acting superintendent of parks, manager of Administration and Finance, manager of Planning and Development, deputy clerk, deputy treasurer, deputy CAO, and most recently, manager of Information Technology).

The human resources manager’s job is to help the town’s roughly 100 full-time employees and some 50 part-time and seasonal employees. They oversee all the hiring and the training, and maintain employee personnel files, as well as assist them with questions about their benefits and get involved in contract negotiations.

They also co-ordinate internal policy, such as health and safety and travel.

As treasurer, Witherspoon’s job is to make sure municipal revenues are collected and handled properly, and that bills are paid.

The treasurer and other staff in the finance area also are responsible for such matters as preparing the annual budget, maintaining internal controls that ensure the proper use of money, and reporting regularly to council on the state of municipal finances.

Along with the treasurer, council division managers work together to prepare the budget each year. The budget is the tool which develops council policy in financial terms.

The budget allocates the scarce financial resources in the way that best meets the municipality’s objectives.

It is a primary management tool, and can be used to reinforce sound management practices. It is the main vehicle through which council and management can ensure funds are spent only for the purposes authorized and that expenditures do not exceed the amounts allocated.

Editor’s note: The above was compiled from information provided by the Town of Fort Frances and AMCTO.

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