The District of Summerland is now operating with seven fewer employees after council unanimously supported a reduction in staff.
The downsizing, expected to save up to half-a-million dollars, was officially announced to the public at a committee of the whole meeting Monday morning. The affected employees learned their fate late last week.
Among the reduction in services will be the immediate layoff of three CUPE staff - the public works secretary, engineering technician and a water supply technician. As well, one electrical employee, a groundman truck driver, is being laid off.
One of the three laid-off CUPE members was able to move to another department due to attrition.
Three vacant management positions are not being filled - the deputy fire chief, director of parks and recreation, and superintendent of works and utilities.
With the seven job losses comes two newly-created positions Ã³ a GIS/database technician and a manager of financial services.
Mayor Janice Perrino said council's decision wasn't easy.
"When you lay people off, you ruin their lives for months to come and you hurt people deeply," she said. "The reality check is that we have to do this to get our finances in order."
Perrino said the vote of council was made in-camera and was unanimous.
In a 25-minute preamble to council, chief administrative officer Tom Day noted the need for an
infrastructure upgrade and the municipality's declining ability to fund it. He pointed to rising core costs without corresponding revenue increases, which directly resulted in a decrease in funds for capital operations.
Day said inflation in the Okanagan is at one per cent, but the costs of energy, raw materials such as asphalt and gravel and skilled labour are all rising well above inflation.
He said the district's surplus fund is low and although borrowing is an option, it creates a series of new problems.
In an interview, Day and Perrino acknowledged the 2011 Helios Report, an independent study on municipal spending, gave Summerland favourable reviews on its level of staffing.
"There will be some hiccups," Day said. "There will be impacts on the service levels offered, but they're impacts we can live with. I think the structure can work. This is good for the taxpayer of Summerland."
Day said the savings from reduced staffing in 2015 will amount to $500,000 and slightly less in 2014.
Coun. Marty Van Alphen noted, "Last week was not a good week here in Summerland. The employees who are being let go were all excellent people."
Coun. Bruce Hallquist noted the restructuring was "long overdue" stating he believed Summerland
began going downhill financially in 1996.
Hallquist's thoughts were echoed by other councillors.
"This council realized we had to make some substantial changes," Coun. Peter Waterman said. "Although it's a difficult pictures our CAO paints for us, it is a realistic one. I was very pleased with the way our CAO has grappled with the situation. He's made some very difficult decisions and changes."
Darren Krell, president of CUPE Local 1136 in Summerland, declined to comment.