Big changes at city hall – egos bruised and staff shuffled around. City restructures top levels; lots of disruption at finance.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  June 12, 2012    One of the three General Manager position at city hall was declared vacant this evening.  Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure will return to his home position July 3rd and take up the position of Executive Director of Finance – which means Joan Ford who has been filling those shoes, very well we might add, goes back to her old job and all the people in the department will move down one rung on the corporate ladder.

City manager Jeff Fielding has made his first move on re-organizing his talent pool. How much more to come?

City Manager Jeff Fielding had the City Clerk hand out a press release once Council had adjourned – there was no discussion on the changes.  That had taken place two weeks ago at a Budget and Corporate Services meeting at which more than an hour was spent at a Closed Session of Committee to discuss a Human Resources related to the reorganization.

The City Manager had decided to keep the three General Manager structure which will now look like:

General Manager:  Kim Phillips heading up what has been called Budget and Corporate Services will oversee:


Human Resources 


Information Technology Services



Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure Steve Zorbas reutrns to Finance to pick up his old job.

General Manager of what was called Development and Infrastructure, which is now vacant will cover:

Burlington Transit

Parks and Recreation

Burlington Fire Department

Local Board Liaison: Burlington Art Centre; Burlington Museums; Tourism Burlington; Burlington Public Libraries; The Burlington Performing Arts Centre

General Manager of what has been called Community Services will continue to be overseen by Scott Stewart.  Parks and Recreation has been moved out of this division and put into Development and Infrastructure

Planning and Building

Roads and Parks Maintenance


Transportation Services

Corporate Strategic  Initiatives

Local Board Liaison: Burlington Economic Development Corporation; Burlington Chamber of Commerce; Burlington Downtown Business Association;  Aldershot BIA; Burlington Hydro

“The city’s Executive Director of Finance, Steve Zorbas, had been serving as the Acting General Manager of Development and Infrastructure. Staff in the acting positions of the executive director, deputy treasurer, manager of budgets and policy and financial analyst, budgets and development, will return to their home positions in the coming months,” said the press release.

Joan Ford knew her numbers inside out and developed perhaps the sharpest crew at city hall.

Joan Ford, as Acting Executive Director of Finance, has developed an exceptional staff team using a nurturing, supportive approach that has worked very well.  Some of those staff members are highly qualified and may want to look at other municipal jurisdictions.  Finance isn’t going to be a happy place for the next little while.

The Parks and Recreation Department will be grouped in the same division as Burlington Transit and the Burlington Fire Department. Until the new General Manager is in place, Parks and Recreation will continue to report to General Manager Scott Stewart.

The acting fire chief, Dave Beatty will report to the city manager temporarily. The recruitment for the new fire chief to replace the retired chief will take place after the new General Manager of that division is in place.  The city currently has three deputy fire chiefs – which might, we are told, be cut back to just two deputies.

There are other organizational changes that will come to the surface once city manager Fielding has his three General Managers in place and functioning as a team.

Clerks is going to see some modifications.  In order to “develop synergies within divisions and increase corporate capacity to best reflect the needs of the community” as Fielding put it, there is going to have to be more focus on the customer and less on the taxpayer.

Good first step – more to come.


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