By Chad Ingram
During a special meeting on Sept. 6 Haliburton Countycouncillors instructed the county’s chief administrative officer alongwith the CAOs of the county’s four lower-tier townships to draft arequest for proposals for a service delivery and governance review ofthe local governments.
Councillors have been discussing the possibility of such areview throughout 2019. The study will look at both the delivery ofservices – at which tier each service is best delivered if there areopportunities to consolidate services etc. – and will also examinegovernment structure providing recommendations.
During the meeting Sept. 6 county CAO Mike Rutter toldcouncillors it was his recommendation that an RFP be drafted by himselfalong with the CAOs of the county’s four townships and that onceproposals are received they be evaluated by the CAOs along with someelected officials.
Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor and County Warden LizDanielsen wondered if once the field was narrowed down to a fewconsultants if it would be appropriate to have those consultants visitcouncil to outline their process.
“What does council think about having them come and present?”Danielsen said. “This is really important it affects everything we do.”
There seemed to be agreement that seemed like a fine idea.
Rutter and Danielsen will also visit each of the lower-tier councils outlining the plan and seeking support.
“If one municipality lags behind in this . . . it could affectthe entire process” Rutter said. He said that the CAOs would meetperiodically with the consultants and that councils may be consultedfrom time to time throughout the process.
“There may be times when county council or even the four local councils may need to be drawn in” Rutter said explaining this may be for reasons of setting service levels for example. “We would come back to you we would not make those decisions arbitrarily.”
At the end of the process council will be left with a series of recommendations from the consultant.
“It would be no different than any other study” Rutter said. “You may or may not choose to follow those recommendations.”
“I’m very comfortable with the process and I’m sure everybodywill participate and do their best” said Minden Hills Mayor BrentDevolin adding it was an exciting day.
Devolin has been the most outwardly supportive of moving toward a single-tier-style government of any member of council and has saidin the past that if the county does not do some reorganizing on its own he fears that reorganizing may be done for it by the province.
“It’s exciting but it’s also a bit curious because we don’t know where we’ll land” said Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt.
Devolin suggested that when it came time to review theproposals that including councillors with “divergent views” might be agood idea.
“We all agreed we were going into this with an open mind” said Danielsen “but I hear what you’re saying.”
The county is budgeting $150000 for the process althoughRutter has indicated that may end up being a conservative estimate. Hisproposal is that the county cover 50 per cent of the cost and the four lower-tier townships each contribute 12.5 per cent.