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The General Manager: Providing Consistency and Continuity

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Updated on April 12, 2023

Although they often work in the background, municipal general managers play an essential role for the long-term development of local municipalities and communities.

This is particularly true for small municipalities that rely on reduced administrative teams and elected officials that often only work part-time. Municipal general managers ensure that municipalities are managed consistently and continuously, which makes their role all the more important.

Whether their work involves liaising with the municipal council and administrative team, providing strategic information so that the mayor can make informed decisions, or ensuring, alongside the team of civil servants, that actions are carried out in compliance with the multiple laws that apply to the municipal sector, general managers play a major role. For efficient municipal management, roles and authorities must be clearly defined, particularly for elected officials, civil servants and the general manager.

Complex Issues and Multiple Solutions

Managing a municipality is no simple task. There are often complex issues, numerous stakeholders and conflicting interests. The needs of citizens and businesses are becoming more costly, while municipal funding sources are lacking and closely tied to property tax revenue. It’s worthy to note that general managers in smaller municipalities often carry out more than one role; some even take on secretary-treasurer and public works manager tasks, among others.

As municipalities are given greater powers, their management becomes increasingly complex, yet the expertise required to carry out such tasks is not systematically available. This can represent a major challenge.

Although municipalities may have multiple issues, solutions must be adapted to each specific situation. However, it’s impossible for municipal administrative teams, under the leadership of a general manager, to be specialists in all areas. Solutions are developed on a case-by-case basis and often rely on examples from other municipalities, or even other countries.

Under the Spotlight

Indeed, few Quebec organizations are subject to as many audits as municipal authorities. In addition to all of the legislation and regulations municipalities must comply with, they must also report to various government authorities, and have a close relationship with their citizens who legitimately expect high-quality local services and unfailing management of public funds.

In light of this context, municipal managers need people they can count on. They must be supported, be able to count on a team of specialists who can provide appropriate information, and occasionally must call upon external or more knowledgeable resources so that decisions can be made in the interest of citizens and the municipality.

Major municipal projects must be carried out in close collaboration with municipal authorities, the general manager and civil servants. While municipal general managers often work in the background, their role and teams are indispensable for the long-term development of local municipalities and communities.

Published First in French in Magazine Scribe.

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