For many years, the Chamber has been an outspoken advocate of the need for a review of city services to improve fiscal transparency and accountability. In our City of Opportunity 2018 municipal election platform, we asked all candidates to commit to a services and spending analysis and were pleased to see this commitment acted on within the first six months of this term of Council. The phase one report was released in December 2019 and the final report was handed down last week.
The urgency in addressing spending and efficiency at City Hall has rarely been so palpable, as Council and Administration wrestles with a possible $13 million shortfall due to COVID-19. The Program and Service Review final report truly could not come at a better time to help navigate these challenges! This report presents a wealth of information on new policies, processes and technologies that must be embraced to improve operational efficiencies.
The report includes 45 recommendations that go much deeper than the hotly debated issues of closing the Conservatory, the golf courses, and some parks and recreation services.
The majority of the remaining 38 recommendations highlight very clearly that significant improvement can be found through the development of strategic priorities and clearly defined expectations to guide operational activities. New technologies must be implemented to save time and money by evaluating fleet usage and purchasing needs, managing vehicle and equipment repairs, streamlining hiring processes with online screening and video interview options, automating water readings, and integrating databases and electronic systems across departments.
The most important question is “Now What?” It is my sincere hope that this document becomes a beacon that lights the path forward for City Council and Administration. That a blueprint is set in place to evaluate each recommendation and develop a workplan with specific and measurable actions within a clearly identified timeframe. We offer our continued support and encouragement to Council to keep moving forward on this difficult but necessary work. Acta non verba – “Actions, not words” must be our motto to achieve positive change.