Augusta Council receives draft service delivery and operational review report
Augusta Matters by Mayor Doug Malanka
(As published in the South Grenville Journal – Thursday, October 15, 2020)
Augusta Council held a special meeting on Monday, October 5th, 2020 to receive a draft Service Delivery and Operational Review.
By way of background, in March of 2019, the Provincial Government distributed funding to Ontario’s small and rural municipalities including Augusta Township to support efforts to find ways of delivery more modern, efficient, and cost-effective services to their populations. The funding was provided by Ontario in recognition that smaller municipalities may have limited funds and resources to modernize and improve the way they delivery services and to reduce cost where possible.
Before the Modernization funding was provided, Augusta Township has been diligent in its efforts to maintain and improve services while keeping cost low and in compliance with applicable legislative standards. Part of the motivation for this were subtle signals from successive Ontario governments that grants could be curtailed in future years while the Provincial government dealt with the considerable debt owed by the Province. In February of 2020, Augusta Township engaged TDC Group Consulting Group to carry out a service delivery review process that would identify areas for improved service delivery performance.
Through agreement, Augusta Township and the Town of Prescott saw advantage in conducting a service delivery study for each municipality jointly to identify additional mutually beneficial collaborative initiatives. Our two municipalities agreed that the modernization review would: (a) identify options and opportunities to change services and service levels; (b) obtain comparative data including bench marking of services and program with comparable municipalities, and: (c) implement solutions to deliver the most efficient and cost effective services and programs. In addition to further developing a close working relationship between Augusta Township and the Town of Prescott, the objective of the review was to consider and seek opportunities with the neighbouring municipality of Edwardsburgh‑Cardinal as a “South Grenville” initiative. The study also had the goal of incorporating County‑wide mutually beneficial initiatives including the County Modernization Task Force. As stated in the draft Service Delivery and Operational Review report, “The desired result will be a plan to address the immediate issues of infrastructural renewal, provincial downloading and long term financial sustainable while continuing to providing the services that make Augusta Township a desirable place to live and a place where businesses thrive.”
As confirmed in the Executive Summary of the Report, the service deliver and operational review: describes and evaluates the Township’s operating structure and service levels; compares the Township’s operating cost effectiveness and efficiencies based on comparable benchmarks or standards and best practices; identifies potential changes that will maintain adequate service levels while potentially reducing cost, identifying non‑taxation revenue sources that Council may choose to consider and enhancing the Township’s long term financial sustainability.
The fifty‑two page draft Report covers: a community profile; a corporate profile; a corporate overview, a Corporate Financial Analysis; an Opportunity Summary and a section on Next Steps to Implementation. The Report also includes a twenty‑five page Appendix entitled. Departmental Profiles, Peer Comparators and Opportunity Analysis and a 14-page Appendix entitled Augusta Township Service Delivery Review., Community Survey – September 28, 2020.
The Town of Prescott received a presentation regarding their draft report later the same day. It is a comprehensive snapshot on the above noted subjects and one that respective Council needs to read, review, consider, questions and advance. Next steps following Augusta’s Council’s consideration and acceptance include: authorizing management to create a joint committee with the Town of Prescott to monitor and facilitate collaborative initiatives between the two Municipalities that will enable efficient and enhanced service delivery; management provide quarterly reports with regard to initiatives identified, collaborative initiatives with the Town of Prescott, and collaborate initiatives with the County and surrounding municipalities; review on an annual basis an opportunity list; and a yearly review of ongoing performance improvement and service delivery efficiency efforts as well as future initiatives to be undertaken.
On behalf of Council, I thanked TDC Group Consultant, Ted Darby, for a challenging draft report in terms of its length, its breadth, its comprehensiveness, and detail. I expressed the view that the information in the draft report is essential for members of Council to understand and apply as the Township moves forward in its efforts to modernize its service delivery. Next steps – Expect a final Report to be presented to Council in November.