Over the past 12 months, the Town of Cobourg has commissioned studies of Service Levels (What the Town Does) and Organization (How the Town does it). Both were done by consultant KPMG with the Service level report being delivered last November. At Monday’s Committee of the Whole Meeting, Council received the report on Organization review in three parts: a full confidential report received in closed session, a Public report available to the public (see link below) and a presentation to Council by the consultant in open session (also in link below). An initial early review was presented a few weeks ago and this highlighted some problems such as morale, poor management of priorities and poor delivery of services. The “final” report offers some solutions but it will be costly. It’s also a Draft so there might be minor changes.
Scope of Organization Review
- The Town’s organizational structure and how it supports the effective and efficient delivery of services;
- Staffing, including the number and roles of Town employees; and
- The Town’s internal processes for service delivery and decision-making (so-called ways of working).
- Staffing has not been increased when additional tasks were assigned to a person or department
- Insufficient staffing has meant some strategic priorities are not getting done (e.g. economic development)
- A survey of residents got 219 responses and “… the survey results reflect a general absence of focus on customer service, which likely reflects limitations on available resources. Specifically, we note that the Town does not appear to have designated a member of its management team as having overall responsibility for customer service (the strategic plan identifies this as a responsibility for all divisions).”
- A survey of Town employees (60% responded) “identified an overall low level of morale on the part of Town employees”.
- The Town faces risks of litigation and costs in the procurement process since it does not have standardized procurement documents or processes for monitoring contractual compliance. There are also cybersecurity risks.
- Processes and Policies need improvement – e.g.
- The Town currently lacks a human resources information system (“HRIS”), which requires staff to manually accumulate data, diverting them from undertaking higher value personnel services.
- Directors have purchasing authority limited to $5,000 but this should be $50,000
- Too many decisions must come to Council for approval instead of being delegated to staff
- The Town is expected to grow quickly and there will be an increased demand for services. This will require increased resources for planning, procurement and contract administration. On Sept 20 at a regular Council meeting, Ted Williams submitted correspondence that pointed to likely growth that far exceeded Cobourg’s Official Plan (see links below).
Four types of changes are recommended:
- Staffing adjustments (increases) – 13 additions: 7 managers and 6 others. Currently there are 128 staff (excluding police, fire suppression, training and prevention, library and conservation authority).
- Organizational Realignment – add Office of the CAO, separate out long range planning, separate infrastructure planning from executing projects, create new Legislative Services Department and move emergency management, by-Law enforcement and Economic Development into changed/new departments.
- Changes to policy environment and decision-making forums – revise delegation of authority; revise process for policy development; consider using committees instead of Councillor coordinator roles – mostly because this is not common practice in Ontario. Oscar suggested that this be after the next Council election – I note that the County recently re-organized to use this method; and revise medium to long-term strategies to ensure alignment of Town operations with Council and Community expectations.
- Changes to operating processes and ways of working – Develop business cases for key technology enablers (HRIS, e- Permitting, web-based applications, e-commerce) and implement process improvements
Deputy Mayor Suzanne Séguin asked for more detail on why each new position was necessary.
KPMG says that:
Currently, in order to meet the needs of its residents, the Town budgeted in excess of $40 million for the delivery of municipal services (excluding capital and debt servicing costs), of which $24.8 million is funded through municipal taxes.
The suggested additions to staffing levels, as well as the proposed realignment of the Town’s organizational structure, are expected to result in an increase in the Town’s salary costs of $1,100,000, with an additional $330,000 in associated benefit costs. For certain positions, some or all of the associated costs can be funded through user fees as opposed to the municipal levy, with the estimated levy requirement amounting to $1,040,000.
I calculate that the impact on taxes would be 1.04/24.8 or a 4.2% hit on our taxes – no doubt spread over several years although the implication is that most new hiring should be done in 2022.
However, no changes can be done sooner than 2022 due to the required budget decisions.
KPMG suggests that Council need to consider:
- Affordability for ratepayers
- Enhancements to employee morale and customer services
- Cost-benefit result from improved risk management
- Impact on accountability and transparency
- Impact on value-for-money for municipal services
- Impact on services and service levels
The next step is for the CAO to provide a report on what the actual changes should be and in what timeframe. Tracey Vaughan promised that her implementation report would be done before the Committee of the Whole meeting on October 25.
- Organizational Review – open session report – see especially the 11 page Executive Summary
- Presentation by KPMG on their Organization review – by Oscar Polini
- Ted Williams letter re growth
Earlier Reports on Cobourg News Blog
- Early Look at Organization Review – 17 Sept 2021
- Service Levels Review Final report – 16 Nov 2020
- Six Monthly Progress Report on Service Delivery actions by CAO – 19 June 2021