City hall will be cutting a municipal enforcement officer position if the 2019 budget for the Public Safety department is approved by city council.

The 2018 budget accounted for six municipal enforcement officer II positions with the city. These officers are responsible for enforcing municipal bylaws, such as traffic safety and animal control. The 2019 budget will bring that number down to five.

The number of bylaw officers will go down to five from six if city council approves this portion of the 2019 budget. NNSL file photo

The overall number of staff within the department, however, is not going down even though wages and benefits for the department are slated to cost $561,000 more than they did last year, totaling $7.3 million. There are 57 people working in the Public Safety department, which includes municipal enforcement, the fire hall and a new division that will take care of emergency dispatch – a service that formerly operated under the direction of the fire department. The new division will be headed up by Doug Gillard, the beleaguered former manager of municipal enforcement.

Gillard was moved out of municipal enforcement in October following months of scrutiny after several former bylaw officers accused him of workplace misconduct, including using city security cameras to ogle attractive women and striking subordinates in the groin.

Gillard has never publicly addressed the accusations made against him although 10 of the 12 staff working under him at the municipal enforcement division signed at a letter of support for him in early September, which was sent to Yellowknifer.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the city’s online staff directory reflects the change listing five officer II positions and two officer I positions, who mainly handle parking enforcement.

Paul Falvo, a lawyer and former city councillor, stated cutting the number of bylaw officers would be a “step in the wrong direction.”

“Officer safety needs to be paramount,” Falvo stated in an email. “Giving them the resources and having adequate numbers to ensure officer safety will reduce potential liability and may save money in the long run.”

When asked why a bylaw officer is being dropped from the budget, a city spokesperson stated by email that the decrease was “based on attrition” and that the city “will be considering options to ensure a robust municipal enforcement function going forward.”

But newly elected city councillor Robin Williams said he was told by the city the position was being reallocated to the new emergency dispatch division.

“From my understanding of what’s happened is that’s been reallocated to the emergency response department that has been newly created,” said Williams. “Every question that I have asked has been answered and I feel fully confident in their abilities to move forward with a properly functioning department.”

 

Gillard’s job the only new one

Doug Gillard holds the only new position for Public Safety. NNSL file photo.

The only actual position being added to the new division, however, is Gillard’s. His new job was never formerly announced by the city. It was confirmed by Mayor Rebecca Alty on election night Oct. 15, the same day Gillard began his new role.

An inquiry into the allegations against him found city security cameras had “more likely than not” been misused and previous allegations had already been dealt with by the city. A full report has not been released to the public. The inquiry was expected to cost up to $40,000.

It’s unclear what Gillard’s salary will be in his new role as manager of emergency dispatch but a line item in the budget draft for the Public Safety directorate, which includes the director and the three managers for the department shows an increase from last year of $137,000.

Kassam stated the newly created position was never put to competition as the position is “a realignment within the department.”

“As a part of transforming our business to ensure continual improvement, the priorities of the Public Safety department has been realigned to better address the requirements of the city,” stated Kassam.

Kassam stated the new division was created after a recommendation by Eric Bussey, director of Public Safety.

“The director of Public Safety did make this recommendation based on his own experience and expertise but also informed by consultations with emergency management officials in other jurisdictions at the municipal, provincial and territorial level and within the private sector,” stated Kassam.

A large portion of the remaining increase to Public Safety’s wages is attributed to the salaries of four new firefighters which were first introduced late last year. Their addition will contribute $387,265 in wages, stated Kassam.

Those positions were added after a report called for more firefighters to be hired to address under-staffing at the fire hall. This year’s draft budget shows the fire and ambulance division will bring in $235,000 in revenue through increased medevac fees.

None of the proposals in the 2019 draft budget have been approved by council. Council will hear public presentations on the budget Nov. 19 and formally adopt the budget on Dec. 10 after a series of deliberation meetings.

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