Council buys into service delivery review
The following are brief reports of items discussed during a Nov. 28 Minden Hills council meeting.
Council was visited by Haliburton County Warden Liz Danielsen and county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter, who’ve been travelling to each of the county’s four lower-tier municipal councils seeking support for a service delivery and governance review the county is having conducted.
The study will look at the delivery of services, in particular, which tier is best suited to deliver which service, opportunities for consolidation of services, etc., and may also lead to recommendations to change the local governance structure itself, such as the possibility of an amalgamated, single-tier government.
Initially, it was thought that report would be completed by next fall. However, new municipal modernization funding the province has made available is a perfect fit for the project. A caveat is that in order to qualify for that funding, the study must now be completed by June.
“It has moved our timeline up a little bit,” Rutter told councillors.
It’s Rutter’s hope that county council will approve a request for proposals for a consultant for the project in December, that a decision on a consultant would be made by February, and that the report would be completed by the June deadline. Rutter said he’s asked provincial reps if there’s any flexibility on the deadline, and it appeared that was not the case.
Rutter has estimated the process will cost $150,000, but has added on a number of occasions this estimate may be conservative. The upper tier of the county would fund half the cost, each of its lower tiers at 12.5 per cent, although a successful grant application for modernization funding would mean costs borne by the province.
Minden Hills council agreed to the process, and for the township to cover its share, if required.
“Anything worth doing is worth analyzing,” said Mayor Brent Devolin. Algonquin Highlands and Dysart et al councils have also supported the process, and Rutter and Danielsen are scheduled to visit Highlands East council early this month.
Benefits costs up
It will cost the Township of Minden Hills approximately $295,000 to provide employee benefits for 2019, an increase of approximately six per cent from last year, or about $17,000 more.
Kevin Ashe of Mosey & Mosey Insurance Agency told councillors that while the insurance company had requested an increase as high as 11 per cent, that figure had been negotiated down to six. The increase puts the township’s five-year average rate increase for benefits at 3.7 per cent, which Ashe noted is “certainly higher than the rate of inflation,” but lower than rates being faced by many other municipalities.
Ashe told council that consortium purchasing of benefits can often offer savings, and that Mosey & Mosey is helping to manage one consortium sponsored through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Ashe said it may also prove beneficial for the lower-tier townships of Haliburton County to purchase benefits through a county-wide plan and that Mosey & Mosey could assist the county in a feasibility study for such, if so desired.