Money meant for streamlining, CAO suggests
By Chad Ingram
County councillors discussed what the municipality might do with new funding from the province during a meeting on March 27.
Late last month, the heads of local council received correspondence from Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, informing them their municipalities would be receiving one-time grants.
The County of Haliburton will receive $725,000, Dysart et al and Minden Hills each $542,255, Highlands East $534,469 and Algonquin Highlands $532,292.
“I believe there will be an expectation that we will be reducing our costs,” county chief administrative officer Mike Rutter told councillors.
Part of the letter from Clark reads: “While this investment is unconditional, it is intended to help modernize service delivery and reduce future costs through investments in projects such as: service delivery reviews, development of shared services agreements, and capital investments. Our government believes that municipalities are best positioned to understand the unique circumstances and determine how this money is spent.”
At a special budget meeting in February, county councillors agreed the municipality should embark on a governance review/shared service exploration.
“As all local municipalities are represented at the county council table, it was agreed that the conversation should take place at the county level and migrate down to the four municipalities as required,” read a report from County Warden Liz Danielsen.
Rutter told councillors he was meeting the CAOs of the four lower tiers regarding the governance review, and said he would bring a staff report back to council. An inventory of services already shared by the municipalities is expected to be completed in May.
“We all received substantial amounts of money that certainly has service delivery review attached in the language,” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt. Moffatt suggested that perhaps some of the money be used towards community safety and wellness plans the province is requiring municipalities to complete, and “which we feel will end up costing more money than it’s worth,” Moffatt said.
Councillors all seemed to agree the mandated plans were a waste of time, with Danielsen saying that sentiment extends to other municipalities throughout the province.
“Everybody is off the charts that it is ridiculous, it’s onerous, it’s too expensive, it’s just useless,” Danielsen said, adding there was some advocacy for asking that the requirement be removed.
While everyone may agree the plans are not useful, municipalities are still mandated to complete them, Moffatt noted.