The long view of the Wharf Rat Rally in Digby, Nova Scotia – but not quite all of it. Jonathan Riley photo
As part of the town’s budget package, council approved an organizational review of the town’s operations.
“The goal of this is to make us more efficient at delivering our services,” said Mayor Ben Cleveland. “And maybe down the road that will lead to cost savings.”
Council approved up to $10,000 to hire a third-party to carry out the review and the town has been approved for matching funding (up to $12,500) from the provincial department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations (SNSMR).
The mayor says the review will look at the current way the town delivers its services, identify strengths and weaknesses come up with recommendations including a specific action plan.
“The municipality did this two or three years ago and they were very happy with the results,” said the town mayor. “They reassigned some work flows and shifted responsibilities.”
A draft terms of references says the review should look at:
the job descriptions for all town employees; staffing levels and compare them to those of similar sized municipalities; workflow and information flow between council, CAO, supervisors, staff and the public.
The recommendation and implementation plan will touch on staffing options, salaries, management practices, leadership, staff morale and succession planning.
The review will also look at the roles, responsibilities and relationships between council, committees and the surrounding area.
They will also examine shared services agreements with neighbouring municipalities and the province.
The consultants are to meet regularly with an advisory committee made of council, the CAO and a municipal advisor from SNSMR
The review will be tendered through a request for proposals and council be asked to approve the terms of reference in the coming weeks.
The mayor says the review should be finished by October or so.
Council review next year
Separate from the organizational review, the mayor would like to have a representative from SNSMR come speak to council about the polling districts study required for next year.
Under the Nova Scotia Municipal Government’s Act, each municipal unit has to carry out a study of its polling districts every eight years.
The study has to look at the number of districts and councillors, the boundaries of the districts and specifically the study has to look at the “fairness and reasonableness” of the districts.
By the end of 2014 the council has to apply to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to have them confirm the polling districts or change them.
The mayor wants a representative from SNSMR to help council understand how the review process works and how council can best prepare to participate in it.
Since both the town and the municipality will be undergoing the review, the mayor thinks it is also a good time to look at the ins and outs of amalgamation.
“Amalgamation is something I think we should look at,” said Cleveland. “I think to be fair to the taxpayer we have to examine all the options. However before we get too far into it, we need to find out if it is something the municipality is even interested in talking about.”