It’s refreshing to see follow up by the CAO on last year’s KPMG Service Delivery Report recommending improvements in operating efficiencies in Staff operations. At the next Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, CAO Tracey Vaughan will present a progress report on 14 different actions covering all departments. A template is used to keep all reports in the same format. Reports are scheduled quarterly and the first report is in June as originally scheduled. KPMG reported that major cost reductions could only be achieved by reducing services and although some reductions are being considered, the prime focus is on improving efficiency plus some increases in non-taxation fees (see Links below). Tracey is also looking for help from the Organizational Review currently being done.
With action on 14 initiatives being reported, I will highlight just the more significant of these – from a Citizen interest point of view. See the links below for the full list.
Non-Taxation User Fees
An increase in Marina user fees has already been approved (2021 rate schedule here) but a complete review of all user fees in the Town is planned. A consultant will be hired to do this – it appears that the criteria will be whatever comparable municipalities charge.
The progress report quotes KPMG as saying: “Cost reductions vary from approximately $810K to $1.8M”. The plan is to “determine what recreation, cultural and tourism activities could be eliminated and present findings at 2022 budget session.” It’s also noted that: “During the 2021 Budget session, it was determined that the Concert Hall would remain closed until 2022. Staff who have left or retired will not be replaced until the organization review is completed.” Until the Tourism reduction report is public (during budget sessions), we won’t know what activities could be eliminated nor whether we would want them to be.
The intent is to increase revenue from parking by $150K. Some meters will be replaced with Pay and Display machines (notably downtown) and parking fees would be increased. There are currently no public details although Advisory Committees and the DBIA have approved plans. Council would need to approve before there are any changes.
Storm Water Management Fees
A complete review of operating and Capital Costs is being done. When complete, a fee schedule will be established. It’s not stated if this is expected to reduce or increase fees.
The idea of using smaller buses and operating on-call instead of scheduled routes is being tried out in a one-year pilot program. Staff say that it’s “unknown if operating expenses will increase, (or) expected revenue (will) increase.” That is, it’s not clear if ridership will increase so there would be a net financial benefit. Staff will recommend a fare increase for the 2022 budget. A new contactless pass card system is also planned. Staff are:
Undertaking a transition to online bus pass sales and smart card service whereby riders can purchase multi-trip passes from several town facilities as well as third party sellers. Cards can be purchased as gifts and registered online to be topped up by credit card or can be reloaded on board the bus with cash. Discounted monthly passes can be purchased and reloaded online. Blank reloadable cards can be purchased at all participating facilities and then registered online for discounted monthly passes or a set number of rides (10 or 20). Phone in purchases will also be possible. Passes ordered online or by phone will be mailed, couriered or made available for customer pick up.
Economic Development – Business Attraction Funding
The future of this one-person department depends on a Strategic Plan being done shortly which will identify 2022 budget requirements.
Note that for many of the actions to happen, budget allocation will be required in the 2022 budget deliberations for implementation in 2022. Budget deliberations generally start in September so we should see some decisions before then.
Articles on Cobourg News Blog
- Improving Town’s Efficiency – 18 January 2021 – CAO Action plan
- Service Levels Review Final Report – 16 November 2020
Documents on Town’s escribe web site
Attachments – individual reports
- Community Services – Marina
- Community Services – Tourism Reduction
- Planning – Delegation of Authority
- Finance: Municipal-Wide Fee Study
- Public Works: Parking
- Public Works: Storm Water Management Fees
- Public Works: Transit
- Legislative Services: Electronic Document and Records Management System
- Legislative Services: Joint Animal Control Service Board
- Economic Development: Business Attraction Funding
- Service Delivery Review Charter Performance Measures Enhancement
- Corporate Services: Financial Processes
- Corporate Services: Procurement
- Corporate Services: User Fee By-Law