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CB Council to evaluate town efficiency

Colonial Beach Town Council could spend almost $27,000 to evaluate the town’s employees which number around fifty.

During their work session in January, members of the council presented two proposals for assessment of town employees- one from Whitestone Partners, and the other from Springsted Incorporated.

Mayor Mike Ham said in a telephone interview on Monday, “The council is in the discussion phase to seek out a consultant firm to identify employees’ roles and the their management structure, and to evaluate the efficiency of the town.”

Town Manager Val Foulds has recently been under fire from citizens who had signed a petition that was presented to the former council by Wanda Goforth (before she had become a member of council). According to Goforth, then, citizens had questions concerning the town’s management structure, and the salaries and performances of its employees.

Now a council member, Goforth (along with Mayor Ham and Councilman Jim Chiarello) spearheaded the discussions to employ a consultant firm to “find the most efficient way to run a small town,” according to Ham.

Whitestone Partners’ proposal to conduct a series of one-on-one interviews with key employees, update their job descriptions, assess current management team members, conduct an organizational survey, hold a one-day strategy session, perform compensation review, and to report findings to the mayor would cost $16,700.

The Journal obtained a copy of the proposal from Whitestone Partners. The proposal, which had no company logo or background information on the company, listed no qualifications, but the company’s website offered impressive accomplishments from both Doug White and his partner Polly White, concerning small to medium size businesses.

When asked how many government localities the firm had worked with, Partner Doug White, in a telephone interview, said he would not comment because their company did not have direction from the Colonial Beach Town Council.

The Journal did not obtain a copy of the proposal from Springsted Incorporated, but the website states that the company is dedicated to helping governmental agencies and localities, rather than private industry.

A message was left for David Webber, of Springsted Incorporated, but a reply was not received as of press time.

Ham said that to perform the classification study and organizational assessment with Springsted Incorporated would cost $23,455, and up to $3,400 in out-of-pocket costs.

The Journal obtained a partial list of current projects that Town Manager Val Foulds has been instructed by council to accomplish, along with her day-to-day operations of the town and managing department heads.
Currently in the works are; the safe routes to school grant, erosion and sediment compliance requirements, and working on the second submission of the revitalization grant.

Foulds is also negotiating with the Paul Stefan Foundation for the lease of the old Klotz building and to appraise the old police department building for an art consortium.

Other current projects include capital improvement projects, investigating funding for Robin Grove pump station and additional waterline upgrades, and the Phase III sewer rehabilitation project of over three million dollars.

In the last few months, the council has tasked staff in bringing the Beach Gate Inn to compliance with fire and other safety codes, re-establishing the Housing Authority, and establishing ownership (through title searches) of the boardwalk, south of Colonial Avenue. New council members are anxious to make progress.
The January work session lingered on for seven hours, over a two-day span. Councilwoman Wanda Goforth said, before the meeting in a phone interview, that she is eager to get things accomplished as soon as possible. Goforth said she plans to discuss having a meeting every week, for at least the first few months in 2013.

Council members are in charge of creating and passing resolutions and ordinances. Unlike ordinances, which are law, resolutions are not mandatory, but rather a collective agreement of the council to follow certain protocols.

With each new idea for resolutions or ordinances, town staff must perform a multitude of tasks to make the council’s decisions come to fruition, including attending all meetings of council, researching funding options, ensuring legality of resolutions, etc.

Town staff is short one member for a few weeks while Town Clerk Kathy Flanagan recovers from bypass surgery she had over the weekend.

An evaluation of staff and their performance from an outside consultant may uncover wasteful spending or the need to hire more staff to lighten the load of overworked employees. Whatever the outcome, an evaluation would accomplish laying questions concerning government spending in Colonial Beach, to rest.

Linda Farneth

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