As promised, CAO Tracey Vaughan has now issued a report on what actions the Town should be taking to implement the recent report by KPMG on how the Town could save money. Tracey’s report is included in the agenda for the next Committee of the Whole meeting on January 25. First she says that KPMG notes that two-thirds of the Town’s operating costs and 71% of the municipal levy requirement relate to services that are considered to be either mandatory or essential in nature. While discretionary services account for $6.9 million in annual taxation revenue, $6.6 million of that amount are discretionary services that are traditionally delivered by municipalities of similar size. She accepts that Councillors do not want to actually reduce service levels so she focuses primarily on finding efficiencies.
As well as direct cost-saving initiatives, there will also be an “Organization review” in 2021 to see if the necessary skills exist within the organization, to ensure that staff are working efficiently and to determine if the organizational structure is appropriate to achieve the goals set out in the current Strategic Plan (subject of a future Post).
See her full report via the links below but here are some highlights:
- Consider a reduction in spending for certain recreational and cultural programs. Options to be presented to Council concerning current recreation, culture and tourism programming.
- Reconsider the provision of transit services in light of current service levels, lower than average utilization, higher than average levels of taxation support. Staff are looking at On-Demand service, buying smaller buses and reviewing the fee structure. See previous article on Micro-Transit.
- Consider discontinuing the Town’s involvement in the Joint Animal Control Services Board. Notice has already been given to exit at the end of 2021. Brent Larmer will report on the next steps early in 2021
- Consider redirecting funding of business attraction from the County to the Town’s economic development function.
- Consider increasing user fees:
- Increase Planning fees so that costs covered increase from 27% to 50%. Some of this is included in the 2021 budget.
- Increase Marina and Campground Fees to cover future Capital costs
- Add a storm water management fee
- Improve collection of Parking fees and increase revenue (e.g. Pay and display and possible parking fee increases)
- Increase user fees each year to cover inflation
- Charge for booking cancellations.
If a User Fee Study is approved in the 2021 budget, Finance plans to issue an RFP in the first quarter of this year.
- Enhance operating efficiencies and customer service experience; implement strategies to reduce the use of paper documentation.
- Delegate approval authority for site plan applications to staff
- Implement changes to the Town’s financial processes to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of
- Transaction processing – e.g. provide the option of emailing property tax bills to homeowners
- Financial reporting;
- Accounts receivable monitoring
- Consider the establishment of a centralized procurement function that would be responsible for
- Standardizing procurement approaches and documents
- Managing contract documentation
- Performing data analytics on municipal spending
- Incorporating best practices from other municipalities
- Enhance performance Measurement
Subject to endorsement by Council, Tracey says that Directors in each Division will implement the actions in her report. Further, she says that “Reports regarding the implementation of the recommendations will be brought forward to Council beginning June 2021.”
At the Committee of the Whole meeting on January 25, Council will be asked to endorse this report.
It looks like CAO Tracey Vaughan is leading with plans to make the Town’s bureaucracy more efficient. Let’s hope Council is fully supportive although we won’t find out specifics until June when the first implementation recommendations are brought before Council.
- Service Levels Review -Cobourg News Blog article about the KPMG report – 16 November 2020
- Service Delivery Review – full report on actions – by CAO