The Council of the Town of Midland continues to leave us puzzled on a number of issues. Council and their CAO appear to be undertaking many initiatives without a great deal of accountability and transparency. We hope the following curiosities will result in some straight answers from someone (however, don’t hold your breath):
The Ad Hoc Governance Review Committee presented their final report to Council which Council has accepted. Will the reduction in Council members on some committees result in lower pay for members of Council? Should less work mean less pay?
The number of Council members has been the subject of discussion for a number of years. Recently, Councillor File pointed out that people who serve on Boards (or Council) lose their effectiveness after nine years. If this Council follows that rationale, then only four of the current nine members of Council should even consider running for Council for another term. We are curious to see if the other five members adhere to Councillor File’s point?
Another item that has received attention and discussion over a number of years is reducing the number of Council members from the current nine to seven. This Council has expressed no interest in going in this direction, stating the current nine members are very busy. If Council reduced by two members (and gave up their benefits package) the Town could save an estimated $100,000. Just curious why Council members are the only “part time” staff who are entitled to a benefits package?
The ongoing and still unresolved issue of handing over policing to the OPP from the Midland Police Services is resulting in some additional previously hidden costs of this transition coming to light. Will Council and the CAO (and the Treasurer) be able to provide the residents of Midland with a full , accurate and final accounting in the near future so taxpayers can actually determine whether or not the Town will save the monies that Council has stated?
The Midland Public Library has a Security Guard on staff now. Must be the first Security Guard in a Library! Just wondering what happened to the Town’s hiring freeze when this new position was approved by someone?
The Town’s website listed the agenda items for a January 15 meeting of the Human Resources Committee. Naturally, six of the eight items were to be discussed in “closed session”. We understand the need for confidentiality in these matters, however we are very curious to learn the results of this Committee’s deliberations on the Service Delivery Review, Corporate Capacity, Compensation Review, Performance Reviews, Labour Relations update and Recruitment Update. These items do not appear to be in line with the Town’s hiring freeze nor in line with their purported attempts to bring Town spending under control (which are well known objectives of another special interest group). We are curious to learn the impact of these topics on the 2018 Town budget deliberations which have still not formally begun and are much later than most other municipalities.
The subject of amalgamation (Midland, Penetanguishene, Tay and Tiny) has come up over on occasion over a number of years. Surely there would be cost savings simply from reducing the numbers on Councils along with the number of senior management personnel? For example, one Council with nine members would be a reduction of 21 Councillors? If this idea was seriously pursued, the number of front line staff (the ones who actually do the work) would not likely be affected however we would see only one CAO/Treasurer/Clerk/Planner/Engineer/Fire Chief/Public Works Director/Parks and Rec Director/Chief Librarian etc instead of four of these staff in each of these positions who currently enjoy salaries and benefits in the area of $100,000 and more in most cases.
The subject of amalgamation is no doubt a sensitive one but we are curious why there appears to be no serious discussions on this topic which would no doubt result in efficiencies and increased effectiveness of providing municipal services to the North Simcoe residents. Are the people on Council and senior staff reluctant to start meaningful discussions on amalgamation?
Future editions will continue to deal with the results of the Town’s Service Delivery Review report, the Ad Hoc Governance report, the ongoing transition to the OPP and the 2018 budget discussions. Inquiring (and curious) minds want to know!