Older adult programmer to be replaced with new position, says CAO
HUNTSVILLE - The five people who lost their jobs last week as part of reorganization at Huntsville’s town hall have been identified.
The Huntsville Forester has learned that older adults programmer Debbie Deluca, finance clerk Joy McKay, Mary Kay Pengelly from the building department, planning technician Bev Martin and Janet McFayden of public infrastructure were let go last week by the municipality.
Councillors were told about the job losses in a closed session meeting on April 23. The meeting agenda stated the topic for discussion was a strategic initiative update.
The staff cuts were a result of the 2012 budget process during which senior staff was directed to reduce the number of employees for operational efficiency and to take advantage of the town’s investment in information technology, stated a media release.
Several more positions will be restructured as part of reorganization.
The expected savings amount to an estimated $300,000 annually, states the media release.
One of the concerns that some people have expressed about the firings is that the loss of Deluca would leave a void in seniors’ programming.
Norman Neil was the last president of the Huntsville Centennial Seniors club, an organization that disbanded earlier this year after the programming was assumed by the new Active Living Centre.
He said there have been concerns raised by the people who presently attend the centre about the direction of the seniors’ programming now that Deluca is gone.
“Everyone I spoke to was really shocked that she was let go in this way, but not just her, all the rest of the Huntsville staff. There are obligations for the seniors that we can only hope will carry on if and when a new co-ordinator is appointed. There must be a good reason these people were let go.
“We are hoping that something will be done quite quickly,” he said.
Mayor Claude Doughty said that seniors would not be without assistance for their programming.
“It is my understanding that a programmer would be made available for seniors. They are not going to be left without a programmer.”
Huntsville CAO Kelly Pender said on Monday that aquatics director Morven Barnes and administrative assistant Amanda Hill will be handling Deluca’s duties for the time being.
“Amanda has done a lot of programming. Long-term, we are looking for someone to take over our youth summer program and the older adult and adult programming. We are combining two positions into one … we expect to have a full-time person in place sometime this June.”
Doughty said in relation to the five people who were let go last week, it is his understanding that those positions became redundant under the reorganization.
“At the end of the day this was the position of senior staff and council supported that,” he said.
When asked if Deluca, a 20-plus year employee with the town and the only one in the list with her own department, was redundant, Doughty demurred in answering.
“I am not going to speculate because I don’t know the in-and-outs of that without going back to staff to clarify,” he said. “But in general terms a lot of the positions had become redundant.”
However, Pender did say that the older adults programming position was indeed deemed redundant, adding that the job’s responsibilities would be merged into the new youth/adult/older adult position.
There was speculation that Deluca was about two years away from being eligible for retirement at the time of her dismissal and that she was given a significant severance package that included salary for the next two years.
When asked about the rumours, neither Doughty nor Pender would comment.
— with files from Alison Brownlee