PORT McNEILL—The local council unanimously approved Sue Harvey as the new town administrator last week, but the change in staffing is more about titles than personnel and job duties.
Harvey, who has served as deputy administrator since 2009, replaces Albert Sweet, who jointly held the positions of administrator and treasurer for the town.
Sweet will remain on as treasurer in a contracted capacity.
"It's really mostly a change in titles," said Harvey, who first joined the town staff as an administrative assistant in 2006. "I was doing all the background work anyway."
Her three years as deputy administrator proved invaluable in preparing Harvey to take on her new position, she said.
"It's good, because it gives you that opportunity to work toward it and get your feet wet before you get thrown into it," Harvey said. "For me, that system worked well."
Sweet's role will be reduced, though he will remain available to present treasury reports to council as needed.
"He'll continue to keep our books for us, (but) we don't end up with a treasuerer in here five days a week, Mayor Gerry Furney said. "It's as simple as that. It has long been my theory that if the accounting can be kept simple and you keep your books balanced ... the treasurer does not have to work 40 hours a week.
Furney also credited Harvey's work during an "interesting" past year for the town, and was joined by council in offering her congratulations.
"I would like to thank Sue for putting her name forward to do this, because I think you do a phenomenal job, and the support you lend us as councillors is wonderful," coun. Shirley Ackland said. "So, thank you."
Ackland raised concerns from local businesses about BC Ferrys' plans for scheduled terminal upgrades in Alert Bay, Port McNeill and Sointula, and council agreed to contact BC Ferries in an effort to set up a meeting with representatives of the three communities to address possible impacts.
Coun. Gaby Wickstrom said BC Ferries does not have a firm construction schedule, but that works is scheduled on the Alert Bay terminal in early 2013, on the Port McNeill terminal in 2014 and the Sointula terminal in 2015.
"Scuttlebutt is it will be sooner than that," said Ackland. "People are lining up their businesses for barges and stuff for later this year."
Among the issues of concern are alternate docking locations, availability of craft and impact on tourism. While walk-on passengers will have access to the foot ferry Yalis, businesses shipping goods between the islands are worried they may be relegated to barges, with uncertain docking arrangements.
Furney said he was concerned about any schedule that would impact tourist traffic between the islands, and volunteered council chambers for a potential meeting between BC Ferries and representatives of all three communities.