Well, we are almost at the end of this Council’s first calendar year. In a year of “restructuring” we have seen the dismissal or “retirement” of many long-term and dedicated town staff. The reductions have been justified as cost savings measures but that remains to be proven in the accounting.
Exactly how much money are we actually “saving” and at what true “cost”? Each termination or unplanned “retirement” comes at considerable expense to the tax payer. Any savings are often years away once severance has been accounted for.
We are seeing a trend of “retiring” long-serving staff who are well paid and have sacrificed decades or more of service to the town building it to what it was before this Council took office. They are then often replaced by younger, less-experienced and lower-paid staff. It is strikingly similar to big box store or food chain culture where part-time employees and contracts make up the lion’s share of the work force to maximize profitability.
Low or no benefits, no “inconvenient” unions, high-turnover and low motivation by employees who can either find no better work opportunities or lack the skills to move to better paying work.
This is exactly opposite to what Midland needs right now and yet our Town is setting this example.
The cost of terminating an employee “without just cause” can be very expensive as the settlements are usually quite substantial. The cost of arbitrarily “retiring” an employee who falls out of favour or out of step with town administration can be even more costly as they won’t leave quietly without considerable compensation.
While we cannot begrudge the parting gifts and other financial incentives to leave “quietly”, the reality is quite similar to a country song’s lyrics “it woulda been cheaper to keep her”. Instead of discarding staff who don’t agree with the way the Town is heading, perhaps their opinions should be taken more seriously. Perhaps when enough people tell you that you are doing something wrong, it might be “a clue” that maybe you are.
For a Town who’s finances are purportedly in shambles due to reckless mis-management and living beyond their means, it seems counter-productive to be disposing of valuable human assets under the guise of “savings” only to offset that “savings” for years to come by costly litigation, gag orders, settlements and severance payments. Not only are we paying large sums but we are losing talent and experience. It seems anyone who goes up against the CAO or Council is either terminated or suddenly “retiring”.
The town’s mentality seems to be spending $100 to save $20 and to bully staff into compliance.
How many hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars have been spent in 2015 to pay off the human resources that have been discarded? How much more will be spent in 2016 as those payments roll over into the next fiscal year?
These are tax dollars and accountable to Midland taxpayers. While the exact amount per person may be protected from Freedom of Information requests (and that remains to be seen in a challenge), the sum total of these payouts in 2015 and projections for 2016 would not be protected information.
So Town of Midland… how much are we “paying” to “save”? Somewhere, someone has a graph on a Powerpoint that should show these values and how long until we are actually realizing those savings. It should be a public document. This need for large sums of cash to pay off the terminations and sudden unplanned “retirements” could explain why the town is so eager to cash in on the sale of the Midland PUC.
We will be asking the Town of Midland to fulfil this request in the days to come and will publish their response here.