Several members of our group attended new council’s first general committee meeting held on December 13th/2010. Below is a high level overview.
- Council has agreed to schedule additional meetings on the 2011 budget. We applaud the amount of personal time council is dedicating to reigning in the planned spend. Success from our vantage point remains, an overall budget increase spend below 2%. The additional dates are Wednesday, December 15th, January 5th, 17th and 24th, respectively. January’s meetings commence at 5:30pm and this Wednesday’s begins at 7:30pm. Please try to attend.
- Council has agreed to participate in a strategy-setting workshop in the New Year. This will be a weekend commitment and we appreciate the dedication being demonstrated by all as new council starts to define the vision for the town and their respective role. It was clear to us last evening that greater definition and clarity is needed on both fronts. There was great debate around the process of selling a town asset, which was void of a tender process. Not only did the debate take up approximately 20 minutes of council’s valuable time, the current process and policy lacks transparency and accountability. In the final analyses, council agreed to allow the sale of the asset, with the caveat, that going forward, the policy needs to change. The second area that speaks to the need for a high-level strategy/vision session was the discussion surrounding a master plan addressing culture and recreation. While we support visionary thinking at the department head level, clearly council owns the road map for success. Said differently, council must set the vision for the town and the departments must assure that their activity is aligned with the broader mandate. Any other direction is simply putting the cart before the horse. While we weren’t privy to all of the discussion documents, it appeared that there was money in the range of $60,000- allocated for consultants to assist with this initiative. We believe this expense should be “parked” for 2011 and the money reallocated or simply, banked.
- Finally, it was clear that in order for new council to be effective in leaving behind a legacy to include, highly valued services coupled with the effective management of taxes, they will need to embrace the notion that there are no “sacred cows”. Every activity and cost associated with same, can and should be debated. Just because a program or activity made sense four years ago, doesn’t mean it makes sense today. The street outreach program discussion led by one councilor was an example of some new thinking and challenging us to think differently about the status quo. Sadly, the ensuing discussion, witnessed the playing of many old tapes.