A discussion about an important review of service delivery that was a priority of this term of council led to some heated words Monday night, over the involvement of council.
The Town has used part of its funds from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to hire a consulting company to complete the review.
Deloitte Consulting will work with Town staff on a six-phase study, with the first three phases now underway concurrently, councillors heard during Monday’s planning committee meeting.
The study is intended to look for economies, efficiencies, effectiveness and modernization of the Town’s service delivery, through talking to senior management and frontline staff, but not councillors.
It will also look at whether service delivery is aligned with council’s strategic plan.
A final report is expected to be presented to council in March, but the implementation of a plan to improve service delivery is expected to take until 2022 to complete, councillors were told.
The consultants will look at factors such as which services are legislated and which are discretionary, what standard of services are provided and what standard residents expect, and which services are contracted, shared or delivered by town staff.
The service review has been much discussed since the beginning of this council term, which councillors looking for the information that will be gleaned from the study to guide their future decisions. The purpose of the review, said Deloitte consultant Tony Hamer, is to help the Town become financially successful “while delivering the services you want to deliver.”
Coun. Clare Cameron made a motion that council see a draft before the final report is prepared, in case council has “grave concerns” with the report.
Lord Mayor Betty Disero was adamant that a draft report to council would be inappropriate and consultants should be allowed to do their job without council interference. “I don’t want this report publicly tainted,” she said, adding, “we might not like it, but this is their report.”
Coun. Allan Bisback also opposed a draft report, saying the Town is paying a good consulting company with a team of people working on the review, and council should trust them to do their job. Allowing people to see the draft, and possibly make revisions “is dangerous,” he added.
Cameron’s response was that while it’s not unusual to hear people “slagging council,” it was unusual to hear council members slagging each other, insinuating “we’re all being dishonest.”
“I did not imply any one of you would actually go with this intention,” said Disero, adding that seeing a draft could give the impression council was trying to tell the consultants what to say in their report. “Do not interfere,” she said.
The debate on the motion to see a draft report was lost on a tie.