Oscar Poloni of consultant KPMG presented to Council tonight the first report of results for the “Municipal Service Delivery Review”. The review was initiated to “to improve the understanding of the services currently provided by the Town and provide better information that will allow the community, Council and staff to make informed strategic choices regarding those services.” That is, it attempts to answer the question “Can the Town be more efficient and/or reduce costs to Cobourg’s taxpayers?” Initial results suggest that the only real way to do this is by reducing services and asks Council for direction about possibly reducing recreation and tourism and possibly other services. But along the way, a survey with 307 respondents found out what residents think about things like the CCC, the Campground and Tourism.
An initial report on this review was earlier presented to Council on 28 August 2020 – go here.
That article describes where Cobourg spends its operational money and includes citizen views of whether too little or too much is spent on each service. The two major observations are that respondents think that (relatively speaking) too much is spent on the campground and too little on seniors’ services. The graphics in that earlier report are repeated in the latest report – see links below.
Looking at today’s report, the last two graphics seem to be of most interest and are included below.
Initially, the consultant identified other municipalities that are directly comparable based on size but these don’t have a strategy to attract tourists like Cobourg has. Additional municipalities were therefore added to the study which have a focus on Tourism, particularly waterfront Tourism. The initial comparison towns (tier 1) were Brighton, Port Hope, Essex, Huntsville, Owen Sound, Strathroy-Caradoc, Tecumseh,
Tillsonburg and the additional towns added (tier 2) were Collingwood, Wasaga Beach, Midland and Kenora since these also have a tourism strategy.
The KPMG report includes graphics showing how taxes are spent and how they are staffed (again, see report in link below).
Compared to tier one, Cobourg spends less on things like corporate services (e.g. finance) but overspends on Community Services. However, this goes with Cobourg’s strategy to promote Tourism and the fact that citizens value things like the Community Centre and Parks. But if savings of hundreds of thousands are wanted – or about $300 in taxes per typical household – then these kinds of services would need to be reduced. Oscar emphasized that significantly reducing costs would mean significant reductions in services most used and what citizens consider most important.
But what is wanted out of the report are suggestions as to where efficiencies can be found and that’s what the final tables provide. These are called “Opportunities for Consideration” – that is, things to be considered. These can be grouped into 5 categories.
Opportunities for Consideration
Oscar pointed out that although Council could decide to spend less on the Marina and Campground, it would not save any taxes since these are self-funded.
Transit is included in the first category above and Oscar suggested that based on comparisons with other municipalities, Transit costs could be reduced without a reduction in the service level and a study on this might be a good idea.
The final 140+ page report goes to Council at their Committee of the Whole meeting on November 16 and should be on the Agenda on eSCRIBE 10 days before that date.