Stone Mills Township is planning to hire a part-time fire chief.
At a regular meeting Monday, council approved an internal/external job posting for a chief to work 24 hours per week overseeing the operations of its volunteer fire department.
“I think the market is right right now. There are a lot of retired chiefs in this area,” said Jeff Thompson, the township’s public works supervisor and acting fire chief. “It’s going to vary a bit from what we had in the past. This person will be required to go to training and meetings, be the face in the public and with the firefighters as well.”
In a report to council, Thompson said the fire department has had several part-time chiefs over the past few years and has had its volunteer deputy chief acting as chief for 28 months.
Over the past five years, he said the township had not replaced one of its volunteer district station chiefs, leaving it with three as well as 13 officers spread between the Yarker, Enterprise, Newburgh, and Tamworth basis, and one training officer. Thompson said over the same time period, legislative expectations have grown significantly and have increased workload for the position.
In the job description, the new chief will be tasked with developing and implementing strategic plans and policies as well as preparing and monitoring the department’s annual budgets.
Chief administrative officer Bryan Brooks said the township has chosen to post the fire chief’s position and that of a full-time Class S mechanic both internally and externally at the same time for expediency. He noted there’s a concern that council will reach lame duck status from July 27 through the municipal election and that might hinder its ability to hire.
“We’re pushing to get these done,” he said, adding the process would be to consider internal candidates first as it has in the past, then consider external applicants.
In other Stone Mills news…
n The township will be hiring five summer students in the coming months. The public works department will bring on Taylor Stalkie and Nate Murphy, the parks and recreation department will add Kier Doyle and Kiana Lovelace, and the administration department will hire Allison Hannah. Council has also resolved to hire Brooklyn Winter as its elections assistant on a contract post. All of the hirings were supported by the 2018 budget and the township received a Canada Summer Jobs grant for one of the positions.
Brooks said the summer employment program provided successful this year.
“Three years ago when we were having this discussion, we were seeking skilled trades post-secondary students to fill these positions. I am happy to report we definitely ran out of jobs before we ran out of qualified candidates. This was a very competitive process, very strongly applied.”
According to Brooks, students who may have received jobs in the past weren’t offered interviews this time around because of the depth of the pool of applicants.
Councillor Martha Embury asked about the term of the elections assistant.
Brooks said council has budgeted for 18 weeks and that Winter would have a later start date than the other full-time students employed. Enumeration will be a key piece of her job description and eventually she will be the returning official at one of the polling stations.
n Brooks tabled a draft code of conduct for councillors to consider adopting. He explained the province has mandated municipalities to have a current and updated code as part of modernizing of municipal operations required by legislation. Municipalities will be soon required to name an integrity commissioner and, Brooks said, that person will be responsible for code of conduct enforcement.
“I don’t think there are any crazy inclusions based on what we operate upon,” he told councillors. “If there are any additions or deletions, I’m happy to hear those to bring a draft back to council.”
While council received the document, Brooks said he’d like to see a process where councillors evaluate the information within and propose changes.
The first draft came with information from neighbouring municipalities who have conducted the exercise. Brooks also incorporated rules staff follow themselves with regards to gifting in order to establish reasonable thresholds. At present that threshold is $500 in gifts or benefits from one source over the course of a calendar year.
Other clauses detail how councillors interact with their peers, staff, and the public.
Deputy reeve John Wise supported the draft.
“I didn’t find anything that would really change the way we operate. It’s pretty generic,” he said.
Embury questioned whether members of committees of council like the police services board or committee of the adjustment will also be bound by the code. Brooks said he believes those appointed to committees following the 2014 election have signed a similar document and it would be his intention to see that all committee members adhere to the code in subsequent terms.