As you may already know, your Chamber has advocated for a review of City services as an essential step in improving municipal transparency and accountability for years. As decision-makers with fiscal responsibilities of our own, business’ position has been that a solid understanding of the real costs of City services will empower Council’s decision-making and increase taxpayer buy-in when hard choices must be made. The undertaking of a program and service review was one of the key commitments we asked of candidates through our City of Opportunity 2018 municipal election platform, and we’ve been delighted to see a Council elected which endorsed this commitment and then acted on it within the first six months of taking office.
Phase One of the Program & Service Review was presented to Council this past week and will be discussed in full at the December 16th Committee of the Whole Council meeting. In completing Phase One of their Program & Service Review, the consultants analyzed 146 programs and services in 23 divisions and have identified a short list for a detailed review to be completed in Phase Two.
The drivers and themes outlined in the report and the directions identified for next steps align very well to our City of Opportunity Platform’s three pillars of Visionary Leadership, Economic Opportunity and Quality of Life. The Phase One Interim Report includes specific references to the need for strategic planning and strategic execution and highlights recommendations with a focus on improving service delivery to citizens such as updating technology, modernizing policies and processes, and streamlining inefficient processes and core functions. The Phase One report also identifies opportunities to improve revenue sources and generate non-tax revenues.
As we dig a little deeper into the content, the Phase One Interim Report identifies many specific areas that the Chamber addressed in our City of Opportunity platform, including critical requirements for:
- long-term thinking that evaluates the long-term costs and benefits of spending decisions,
- performance metrics to track the success of program and service delivery,
- updates to outdated zoning by-laws, and
- a strategy that outlines which areas the City should be offering programs and services that are also delivered by the private sector.
We believe that the Phase One Interim Report is a highly informative and instructive document that provides a well-thought out and balanced perspective on the current state of city programs and services. It is essential reading for any businessperson or citizen who has an interest in improving the delivery of city services and offers many learnings that can help to enhance the value earned for our tax dollars.
We applaud City Council on commissioning this Program and Service Review and are encouraged by the level of analysis shown in Phase One. We support and encourage Council in their continued commitment to move forward to an in-depth Phase Two review of the twelve identified divisions.