Midland’s Service Delivery Review A Source Of Further Curiosities
In this 3rd edition, the Curious Midlander identifies yet more “curiosities” that much of Midland Council may hope goes un-noticed. Those that follow OurMidland.ca will know that we exist to probe these issues and make them easily digested by the broader community. In the ten months leading up to the 2018 Municipal Elections, we offer this next instalment for your contemplation.
The much-anticipated Service Delivery Review report was presented to Council in December and contains numerous curiosities in the over 100 page report. We encourage Midland taxpayers to read the full report that is available on the Town website (click here).
Here are some curiosities from our preliminary review of this report:
- The consultant provides a summary of 68 recommendations that they suggest be implemented in 2018 (38), 2019 (26) and 2020 (4) that notes a “total one time costs of $663,000 and a total net capacity savings after three years of $514,850.” There are at least two new staff positions recommended so how do these new annual costs get translated into “one time” costs? A senior town staffer noted that the Town will likely implement “5 or 6 recommendations in 2018” which is a far cry from the 38 recommendations to be implemented in 2018 in the consultants report.
- The report stated the Town has “no vision” which is not a good start since all progressive organizations, businesses and Municipalities need a vision in order to know where they are going and to know when they have arrived at their destination? This Council has had three years to develop a vision so it would appear they have failed miserably in this one simple task.
- The report includes such statements as “Administration is change averse” and “staff are not involved in planning processes”. Given the high turnover of Town staff at all levels over the past three years, one could surmise new staff over the past three years have also failed miserably?
- The report also states “ limited investment in (staff) their customer service and professional skill development.” Is something wrong with hiring policies where new staff do not have the required skills? Again, progressive Municipalities place a high priority on investing in their staff and developing their skill sets – who is at fault for this obvious failure?
- Another statement in the report attracts our curious nature that states “many staff indicated they are not aware of Town services or plans and many are not privy to management decisions.” Are decisions being made in isolation from the front line staff and direct managers who are responsible for providing the many Town services? This is not a good start to build an effective staff team?
- The report also states “the financial management framework is not comprehensive and therefore, accountability and controls are lacking in some areas.” Why has this not been corrected, if the statement is indeed correct?
More details on this critical report will appear in the future. For this edition, our curiosity was also raised by the December 17 “message from the Mayor” where Mayor McKay lists 15 items “what have we done?”
He first includes the sale of the MPUC and the “trust fund” of 22 million dollars as an accomplishment, unfortunately, we may have to wait a number of years to truly determine if this was a good or bad decision.
He then is proud of the entire review of town services and the various reports and new staff and the future hiring of two new senior positions to guide our technology development and implementation. (no information on the new costs or why the Town hired a new Human Resources Department Head without publicly advertising this position).
Not sure we share in the Mayor’s pride here. We do agree with the Mayor’s pride in the “summer fun events” and the initiatives to expand and enhance the cruise ship industry for the Town. Kudos to the staff involved in these two initiatives! Mayor McKay also points to the Downtown revitalization which is an ongoing process and remains to be seen how successful these efforts will be.
The Barnstormer Brewery fiasco is also mentioned and our one curiosity is how did all of Council and all of staff neglect to think the site may be contaminated?
The Mayor further includes the decision to disband the Midland Police Services in favour of the OPP that will save the Town one million dollars annually in operating costs. We have still not seen the true and actual figures of this mis-guided Council decision.
The Downtown Health Centre, GBGH project and the new Jarlette project are held up to be Council accomplishments when Council had very little to do with these positive projects (except to give away parkland!) Likewise with the new company at the former Pillsbury plant, affordable Housing (County) and EDCNS.
He does compliment town staff for their dedicated work and we agree with this since our front line staff are able to accomplish many things under adverse conditions. He also throws a compliment to Council for creating the “Municipal Services Corporation” and again we will need to wait for a few years to see whether or not that is a good decision.
Lastly, the Mayor indicates the Keewatin is looking for a new home and may consider coming to Midland – how’s that for creating good relations with a neighbouring Municipality?
In the January edition, we hope to report on the Ad Hoc Governance Review committee report that is almost completed and includes some controversial suggestions (ie. Seniors Council and Active Transportation). Budget deliberations are also in 2018 and the much-anticipated Municipal elections are coming in the fall of 2018.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all!