Har­bour Grace takes steps to fill staffing void

Ques­tions per­sist about why se­nior em­ploy­ees abruptly left their jobs

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BYMELISSA JENK­INS

There were ob­vi­ous mo­ments of ten­sion in the cham­ber at the Har­bour Grace Town Hall Jan. 29 dur­ing the reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing.

The an­tic­i­pated gath­er­ing, which hosted some 20 res­i­dents, seven coun­cil­lors and three town em­ploy­ees, was hyped to of­fer an­swers to a staffing cri­sis fac­ing the town that un­folded Jan. 22. Two newly hired man­age­ment em­ploy­ees left their po­si­tions without no­tice, and the coun­cil had not given comment up un­til the meet­ing.

Barnes said the town re­quested to hold the meet­ing later this month, or some­time in March.

The mayor stressed the town is do­ing its due dili­gence, and of­fered re­as­sur­ances that coun­cil re­mains com­mit­ted to the project.

“The loan is there,” Barnes said in a re­cent in­ter­view with the Com­pass.

At the heart of the de­lay is whether it is fea­si­ble for the town to build a mod­ern fa­cil­ity with two ice sur­faces.

The be­lief is that run­ning two ice pads could in­crease op­er­at­ing costs by as much as 40 per cent.

“We’d love to say we’ll have two, but can we af­ford two? Maybe, we just have to build one,” said Barnes.

“We wanted to make sure that what­ever we take on, the town could af­ford without jeop­ar­diz­ing other projects.” — Terry Barnes

Barnes does not want to see his town have to raise taxes in or­der to make sure it makes its loan pay­ments.

“It’s nice to say the loan is there, but we have to be able to pay, it back and at what cost to tax­pay­ers?” he said. “We don’t want to drive taxes up.”

The de­ci­sion has been ob­served as be­ing a sound strategy, and some­thing that should have been done un­der the pre­vi­ous regime.

“We wanted to make sure that what­ever we take on, the town could af­ford it without jeop­ar­diz­ing other projects,” said Barnes.

These other projects would be projects like roads, as well as wa­ter and sewer.

Since the Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace dis­trict has gone red with Lib­eral MHA Sam Slade win­ning the re­cent by­elec­tion, there has been pub­lic worry the money, which was promised Au­gust of 2011, would dis­ap­pear.

Barnes dis­missed the no­tion, stat­ing the money had been “signed off on.”

Gord Stone

Kathy Tet­ford

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