"Cowardice asks the question...is it safe? Expediency asks the question...is it politic? Vanity asks the question...is it popular? But conscience asks the question...is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it because it is right." ~Dr. Martin Luther King

Saturday 5 October 2013

Various Degrees of Conundrum

I have read it again, ,again and again. Searching over and over for an explanation.

Why Fort Erie and Bradford West Gqillimbury were among comparator municipalities chosen by the consultants for their study of service levels in Aurora.

Fort Erie is away from the epicenter that is the GTA. In Niagara Region.

Bradford West Gwillimbury is part of Simcoe County the largest County in Ontario. But not a Region.

Fort Erie's population  is 30,000. Police  services are regional. Fire  protection is  volunteer .  Commercial  and industrial assessment  are negligible.

Fort Erie's  budget is $19million  about a third of our own but  carried  by half the number of Aurora's population.

Bradford was amalgamated with West Gwillimbury , a rural township in 1999. Their population  is a under 30,000. They too have little commercial or industrial assessment to  share the tax burden. Residential  property carries the load,

They operate a police department in partnership with Innisfil. They have eight full-time people in the fire department. The  Firefighters are volunteers. There's  a court house in Bradford. Security is provided by the police department.

 In York, that's a regional responsibility.

Bradford West Gwillimbury has  hundreds of miles of road  to maintain in winter and summer,
Gravel roads wash out in heavy rains.

Maintenance is ongoing, year round.

Farmlands are not assessed at the same rate as urban.

Aurora' s fire protection budget is over 7 million dollars. The library budget is over  $4million.
Aurora-Newmarket operate joint fire protection. Newmarket is the senior partner because they are the largest  . Not because they are the contractor.

I'm not poring over budgets  for details  Bits  and pieces I obtained in two phone  conversations. Precise  figures  are on web sites of the two municipalities. But for my purpose,it's  not certainty of detail is not  required.

Comparative  per capita cost for service levels  not comparative are not likely.

Because  they are not, overall placement of Aurora's  percentages would be skewed.

Input to the study  from the Mayor and Council indicates the community  is well pleased with  service levels.  No concerns  are noted with  a continually increasing tax burden and gadabout spending.

All Councillors  are noted to have participated.  I didn't.  Seems all who did agreed  everything in the garden is rosy.

Interviews were private.

It states Newmarket clears snow at 50 miles per hour. Aurora 41.

The study contends that's higher level of service . Results in  higher costs therefore.

I don't think so.

Straight  salt  is used on primary roads. Sand on secondary.

Also a higher service level justifying higher cost.

I don't think so.

The study makes no reference to requirement for a million dollar treatment facility to remove salt from snow, removed from streets. to be dumped in a well head area.

Where there is salt, there is no snow. No need  for warmer temperatures of Spring to melt
Salt is used to melt snow and ice.

Straight salt spread on street means no snow to remove from  said street.

That's its purpose.

Input  to the study from the administration, indicates a need to "push down " responsibility for decision making to lower echelons to give the CAO  time for high level planning.

Apparently people in management positions are in need of skills training to meet the responsibilities of management positions.

Need  for re-organisation  is indicated in the study. We did that  four years ago following  another consultant study.

The administration is managed by  an Executive Leadership Team. Used to be know as Management Team. More collaboration is needed between Directors who form the Executive  Leadership Team .

I'm not done yet.


Anonymous said...

Someone goofed big time. Lessons in comparison only work between equals.

Anonymous said...

In many companies and governments employees are able to earn bonuses for coming up with suggestions that result in both time and money saving.

Why does Aurora not create an Incentive Program to accomplish the above?

And no, we do not need a consultant to devise the program.

Anonymous said...

Idly wondering if they simply gave up on finding similar towns when they learned about the fiscal structure of the Centre.

Anonymous said...

That is a fine idea. Council might even be persuaded to create your program. Lord knows, they can't create anything of their own. But I must rain a bit on your parade. Given the mutual hug-a-thon on the adoption of the budget, there is no will to save either time or money. They truly believe that they are doing a good job. The Mayor is on record as not approving of even trying for no tax increase. His long letter of convoluted reasoning was in the Auroran.

Anonymous said...

Politicians appear to succeed by buying us with our own money.

This has got to stop!

They exist to serve us.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what councillors might have told the consultants about town operations during their private interviews. Strictly speaking, it would not to too likely that they would confess to any failure on their part to perform their own jobs of directing the business of Aurora.

Anonymous said...

Compare agendas between the Bradford & Aurora Councils. They do not mess around with neighbourhood quarrels.

Anonymous said...

Councillor Humfryes: " I strongly suggest we refer that excellent idea back to staff so that we can see what other municipalities are doing...so we have a clearer notion of what is required . and whatever costs might be involved . possibly an open house so that we can hear from all those who..... "

Anonymous said...

A likely reason for the comparisons is that the consultant did other work where these municipalities were involved (or was readily available from another study). Quite simply use the same information and throw Aurora in the mix. Call the old report up on the computer and do a bit of editing, change the numbering and a few of the titles and there it is.

The only original work is to invoice the town.

It's done all the time by consultants for all levels of government. Consultants know these reports are sent to file or otherwise collect dust. They are usually worked on by junior staff and then given a nice cover and a glowing thank you letter.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though you have been marginalized in this report. I find it difficult to understand why the consultants did not just phone you with their questions. It is not as if you are off the radar.

Anonymous said...

Possibly Clr. Humfryes can find gainful employment as a consultant to municipalities.

She could be given the task of organizing and hosting open houses, and then summarizing the results.

Wonder how long she would last?