The following article appeared in the Guelph Tribune on February 9th, 2012
The city’s chief administrative officer has announced changes at city hall aimed at helping the city fulfill its promise of “doing business differently.”
Repeating those words that seem to have become a catchphrase around city hall, Guelph’s CAO Ann Pappert said a key element of the changes she is making to the city’s organizational model will be to explore practical ways of doing business differently – starting with changing the role of the chief financial officer.
Under the changes announced Tuesday afternoon, the chief financial officer will no longer be a CFO in the traditional sense. The position, for which city hall is actively recruiting, will now be both a CFO and executive director of finance and enterprise.
“I’m uniting that enterprise and business staff with our finance department,” explained Pappert. Pappert will sit on the city’s executive team with the new executive director and the executive directors of community and social services; operations and transit; planning and building and engineering and environment; and corporate and human resources.
All the executive directors will continue to report to Pappert, but some departments that used to report to the CAO – downtown renewal, community energy initiative, and economic development – will now report to the finance and enterprise executive director.
“It is a little unique,” said Pappert, acknowledging that it differs from the organizational model of most other municipalities. “What I’m trying to do is get the more business-focused folks at the table with the finance department,” she said.
She hopes the change will make it easier to find someone to fill the CFO position, which was left vacant for most of 2011, following the sudden dismissal of Margaret Neubauer last spring.
“It’s going to be easier, but I also think we’ll get people who are intrigued” by the unique new position, said Pappert.
In addition to hiring a new executive director, the city will also be bringing on a new general manager of finance to lead the staff team that handles key municipal responsibilities of financial planning, risk management, budgeting, revenue collection, and accounting.
The city is also recruiting an internal auditor, who will report directly to the CAO in order to ensure the position is arm’s-length from finance and enterprise, said Pappert.
The manager of strategic planning and corporate initiatives will also continue to report to the CAO. In total, Pappert will oversee seven departments, whittled down from the previous 11.
The changes are, for the most part, fine-tuning of larger changes that were made by former CAO Hans Loewig in 2010, said Pappert.
“There’s a lot of common sense behind this adjustment,” she said. “These changes will position us to be able to deliver public service better.”