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Department of Administrative Services and City Clerk
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The Office of the City Clerk was established with the passing of the St. John's Municipal Act in 1921. It replaced the position of Secretary and Secretary-Treasurer, becoming the major administrative body of the Municipal Council. Consequently, this office was charged with a wide range of municipal issues including minute keeping for all meetings and committees of Council, bookkeeping, taxation collection, property appraisal and assessment, licensing and complaints. This office was also responsible for compiling voters' lists for general municipal elections.
As the city developed and its work became more diversified, some of the duties traditionally overseen by the City Clerk were filtered out to other divisions. In 1952, The City of St. John's Act made provision for two new lateral departments positions, that of City Comptroller and Financial Supervisor. However, by 1970, the City Clerk’s Department still oversaw the Recreation Director, Real Estate Officer, Parking Supervisor, Taxi Inspector, Printing Supervisor, Stores Supervisor, Dog Impounder and steno pool. The Data Processing Division and the Director of Personnel and Labour were also administered by this Department by the mid-1970s. Later additions included the Bowring Park Superintendent, NIP East and West offices, and a building superintendent. By the 1980s, the areas overseen by the City Clerk’s department were many and varied, and many officials began to question the effectiveness and efficiency of this administrative structure.
During the early 1990s, the municipal administrative structure underwent a period of intensive examination and scrutiny both by internal and external reviewers. These processes eventually led to some important structural and managerial changes. These changes were precipitated largely by the Doane Raymond Report, an external review of the administrative system at City Hall released in November of 1992. Two years later, in November of 1994, the problems were examined again by an internal committee consisting of Councillors Keith Coombs, Marie White, John Dinn and Shawn Skinner. Both documents cited significant problems with the structure, managerial and communication styles at City Hall. Particularly, the committee cited a longstanding lack of communication between both managers and departments, which ultimately led to confusion of mandates, significant overlapping of work duties, and both management and departments becoming “…protective of their turf,” as the 1994 report stated. In sum, these reviews cited how the municipal administrative structure had failed to modernize at the same pace that city services and responsibilities had increased over the past 100 years. Nowhere was this more evident, it was argued, than in the multitude of tasks overseen by the City Clerk's Department.
To remedy this problem, the internal Committee recommended that each department meet with management on a monthly basis, so as to firmly and regularly communicate the short and long term goals of each department and its respective members. The committee also recommended that all departmental managers make every effort to represent their departments in Standing Committee meetings to ensure departments remain aware of issues in other departments. Another significant recommendation by the committee was that the city management structure be altered to allow for the establishment of a Chief Commissioner and two Associate Commissioners. These added upper-management positions, it was argued, could work in consultation with the City Clerk and the City of St. John's Archives Guide to the Holdings City Manager to allot roles and responsibilities in a more efficient manner. This concern was also addressed in the Doane Raymond Report, which stated that the roles of some departments were not clearly defined, and that responsibility was not evenly apportioned among senior management.
As of 1993 the Building Superintendent went with the Department of Building and Property Management, as well as the divisions of Animal Control and Parking and Traffic. Animal Control [Humane Services] was
transferred to Public Works and Parks effective May 1999. Purchasing Agent and Stores Superintendent went first to Public Works but is now with Finance. City Clerk was no longer responsible for financial duties such as bookkeeping, accounts receivable and payable and budgeting activities. However, matters relating to assessments, elections, minute-keeping, licensing and complaints remained under their jurisdiction.
The Data Processing Department became Computer Services and is now called Information Services. It moved to Finance in 1979, then back to City Clerk and is now with the Department of Corporate and Information Services. Property Assessment, Internal Mail and Central Publishing are also with Corporate and Information Services as of 1995. The Department of Administrative Services and City Clerk is now responsible for Minute-Keeping, Elections and Voter's Lists, Archives and Records Management Division and the distribution and updating of the Corporation and Operational Policy Manual. The City Clerk’s department is now known as the Director of Corporate Services and City Clerk Department.
Former City Clerks: P.W Kelly, Secretary-Treasurer 1895-1899; M.K. Greene, Secretary-Treasurer 1899-1902; I.J Slattery, Secretary-Treasurer 1902-1920; J.J. Mahoney, City Clerk 1920-1952; E.B Foran, City Clerk 1952-1970; R.J. Greene, City Clerk 1970-1990; Damian Ryan, City Clerk, 1990-2002; Neil Martin 2002 to present.
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Created - August 15, 2013
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