Nov. 17-23, 2019, is Municipal Awareness Week in the Town of Amherst. The article below is the fourth of four outlining the role of some of the town’s departments.
The Corporate Services Department is a diversified group that provides high quality stewardship, reporting and services to the town’s departments, to external clients and stakeholders and to the citizens of Amherst.
“As the leader of this department, I take great pride in being part of a team that does such a great job tackling challenges and situations, and planning and delivering services to the public no matter what issues arise,” said Shelley Rector, the town’s chief financial officer.
“The folks in this department are the ‘behind-the-scenes” staff who ensure events happen, reports get completed, the finances of the town are in order, the systems and tools work for staff, people get paid, businesses are heard and supported, and the community gets healthier in all aspects.
The department’s Financial Services Division is led by the Financial Services Manager, who directs a staff of five. These are the people who greet you with a smile when you enter town hall, receive payments on all town accounts, deal with enquiries, manage customer service complaints and provide accounting and clerical support to other town departments.
This division is responsible for creating and managing the operating and capital budgets for the Amherst Water Utility and the Town of Amherst. It provides quarterly financial reports, year-end financial statements and other reports and information to the town’s Audit Committee with the recommendation that the committee send the reports to town council for approval.
This group also ensures the reporting requirements for the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board and the Province of Nova Scotia are met.
In addition, this division is responsible for completing the accounting for the Cumberland Business Connector and for ensuring miscellaneous revenue billing, interim and final tax bills and water/sewer bills are calculated and issued. They also manage the collections and tax sale processes.
This group provides payroll and benefit administration services to all the town departments, and plays a pivotal role in hiring staff and ensuring a smooth transition for staff who leave or retire.
The department’s Information Services Division has two staff members who ensure the proper computer hardware, software and licences are in place for all town departments, including the police and fire services. Their role also includes ensuring all information is properly back up and stored, privacy rules are followed and systems and computers are upgraded. In addition, they provide support services for all office equipment used by town employees.
The division is also responsible for ensuring appropriate policies are followed and recommending new policies or amendments to existing policies as required.
The department’s newly created Community Well-Being Division is responsible for working with stakeholders and citizens to create an inclusive, welcoming community where people feel safe to live, work and play.
There are four staff members working in this division who work to provide a variety of services and events for the public. These employees focus on working with the community to create inclusivity, increase economic well-being, improve physical and mental health, create community pride and share the story of Amherst’s history and culture while continuing to offer active-living events and opportunities.
Staff in this division offer a variety of town-hosted, family first events like Canada Day on July 1, the Christmas Parade and Light Up and the Winter Carnival. They also work with community partners to offer a wide variety of community events, such as the Biker Bash and Fibre Arts Festival.
In addition, these staff members work to offer events that attract tourists and shoppers to Amherst’s many businesses.
The department’s Business Development Division works to ensure Amherst is an attractive place for businesses and entrepreneurs. The division’s single staff member has a strong relationship with the business community. The employee gathers information and data to help the community understand the existing business culture and the challenges businesses face, so that the community can work together to develop sustainable long-term solutions.
This division looks at business growth and sustainability for existing town businesses and works to attract new businesses. It focuses on understanding the labour pool capacity and identify issues that may exist while working on viable solutions to help businesses with gaps in the labour pool. It also looks at strategic approaches for tourism attraction, creating downtown vibrancy and encouraging the entrepreneurial spirt.