County should reduce use of paper, consultant finds
Scrapping the use of so much paper was one recommendation for the County of Haliburton stemming from an operational review conducted by consulting and accounting firm KPMG.
County councillors received a representation on the results of that review during a Dec. 18 meeting. It should be noted that review looked at the internal operations of the County of Haliburton, and is separate and distinct from the larger service delivery and governance review the county is undertaking for itself and its four lower-tier municipalities.
Chas Anselmi, a senior manager with KPMG’s Sudbury office who was the engagement manager on the review, presented the findings to council.
“What do you do, why do you do it, and how do you do it?” Anselmi said, as he explained the essential questions the review strived to answer. “And those are very important questions for a number of reasons, but, in a lot of cases, what this serves as, is a bit of an educational piece for council, as well as the general public, and whoever decides to pick up this document and read it, because municipalities are extremely complex organizations.”
The review also included a comparative analysis with similar-sized communities, looking at the per-household cost of delivering individual services.
“In a lot of cases, comparative analysis just provides us with a bit of a why, as to where you fall within the spectrum of a service,” Anselmi said. “It’s not an absolute finding because . . . whether you’re at the top or the bottom in some cases, may not tell the complete story.”
The county was compared with the counties of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Peterborough and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry.
The County of Haliburton generally has low per-household costs compared to these other counties. For example, the annual per-household cost for general corporate services is $113.47, compared to $112.53 as a low and $216.17 as high. The county had the lowest per-household costs for planning and development services and social housing, with per-household costs for these services at $13.80 and $22.01, respectively. Comparative highs for those two services were $109.01 and $82.29, respectively.
The review found that the vast majority of the services the county provides – 95 per cent – are considered mandatory (required by legislation), essential or traditional, and five per cent discretionary.
A traditional service is defined as one that is not mandatory or essential, but for which a public expectation exists that the service will be provided.
That five per cent discretionary service is basically the county’s new climate change mitigation plan.
“This is going to become a traditional service in short order,” Anselmi said.
The review found that 95 per cent of the service meet standard levels, with five per cent below standard and none above. So, essentially, the County of Halibuton does an adequate job of providing base services, at a low cost.
One recommendation from the review was the implementation of an electronic records system, “a process we see across organizations that’s absent here,” Anselmi said, advising the county to reduce its reliance on paper. “The county’s processes appear to be heavily reliant on paper, as opposed to electronic formats, with associated inefficiencies (and costs) in terms of the movement and storage of documents,” the review reads.
Other recommendations include the centralization of corporate communications, a service level reduction in “the rationalization of library services,” the exploration of a county-wide planning department, and the establishment of development charges.
The county is currently undertaking a development charges study.
“I’m very pleased to see that we are already moving on some of the issues you’ve identified in the report,” said County Warden Liz Danielsen.
“It was a great exercise for us to go through,” said chief administrative officer Mike Rutter.
“We may now look at this and say . . . there aren’t a lot of opportunities for us to reduce our costs, not a lot . . . but there are lot of opportunities to become more efficient in how we deliver those services.”