New city manager prioritizes budget and staffing

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Prince Albert city manager Jim Toye is seen in his new office at city hall prior to his first executive meeting of council on Monday afternoon. 

Faced with two big challenges from the start, Prince Albert’s new city manager has much to accomplish in his first few months.

 

The Daily Herald sat down with Jim Toye on Monday, three days into his stint as the city’s new manager, to figure out what his priorities have been off the hop.

The first major task will be filling the gaps left by corporate services director Chris Cvik and community services director Greg Zeeben, he said.

“We have some gaps, and certainly it will be a priority,” he said of re-filling these two positions.

“I want to wait until all (department heads) are back, and they’ll help me with some of the historical part of it, and I’ll do due diligence to … move forward with hopefully filling them in a very timely way -- very important.” 

But, Toye clarified that the positions may not end up being exactly as they were prior to the directors’ departure, with there being the potential for re-tooling.

“I don’t see any (areas of duplication) now, but are there areas where we can be more efficient or more effective?”

The next major project will be preparation for upcoming budget deliberations, Toye said, noting that he filled the city manager’s seat in the midst of busy season.

Although Toye said that he hasn’t sat in on base budget discussions that have been taking place so far, he is privy to the information that’s been shared.

“There are some very good initiatives that are coming forward,” he said. “We have to hear from city council as to what their vision of this budget is.”

One of Toye’s initiatives that Mayor Greg Dionne has been enthusiastic of lately is the new city manager’s commitment to bundling purchases with other municipalities and organizations.

“The largest city in Saskatchewan is getting the best natural gas price, and the reason for that is strictly volume,” he said.

I don’t see any (areas of duplication) now, but are there areas where we can be more efficient or more effective? Jim Toye

“It can be anything,” he said. “It can be professional services, it can be goods and services, things like natural gas … you just have to think outside of the box.”

During his 14 years as North Battleford city manager, Toye bundled a number of things with surrounding municipalities in order to find cost savings, including almost $100,000 off the purchase of two ladder trucks for the fire department.

Such cost-savings will prove useful over the next year, Toye said, noting that Prince Albert likely faces a mill rate increase in its 2014 budget.

“It’s difficult to go nowadays without any increase in mill rate,” he said. “If you look at what’s happening around Saskatchewan right now, a lot of the (percentage increases) are 5.5 to nine per cent … so it’s hard to think that Prince Albert’s going to be any different.

“I’m not saying those are the numbers we’re going to bring to city council, but those are -- the cities that have adopted budgets -- those are the numbers they’re at.”

Like “every municipality in Saskatchewan,” Prince Albert has a massive infrastructure deficit to tackle, Toye said, noting that hope remains that there will be money available from the provincial and federal governments to tackle this problem. 

Toye was named Prince Albert’s new city manager on Oct. 29, replacing Robert Cotterill, who in September was removed from the position in a unanimous decision of council.

Organizations: Daily Herald, Prince Albert

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, North Battleford

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