Friday, May 22, 2015

Nanaimo Core Services Review

One of the oft repeated promises during the civic election campaign was the importance of a Core Services Review at City Hall. The majority of elected candidates say they are in favour of the process while a couple don't support the idea at all.

Needing to get on with the Core Services Review (CSR) was often given as the reason to just get on with the budget this year without looking too hard for areas to save tax dollars. The CSR was offered as the best tool to properly approach the city's finances and intelligently examine the nearly one billion dollar five year financial plan.

During the budgeting process earlier this year, council passed a motion that service levels would not be increased until the completion of the CSR. Councillor Brennan made an amendment to that motion which included the language that there would also be no decreases to service levels until the completion of the CSR. In other words the status quo would prevail until the results of the CSR were known, which hopefully would provide the framework for sensible budgeting going forward.

That sounds like a reasonable and balanced approach if you see the CSR as being a valuable tool for assessing the financial health of the community and how money is being spent at city hall.

On February 2 council voted to proceed with a core review of the City's services and operations. On May 13 the CSR Steering Committe had their first meeting with facilitator Dr. Roshan Danesh who said these exercises will often fail at either the beginning or the end. The day was spent laying out the framework for the CSR which includes establishing what the committee hopes to accomplish from the exercise.

The City website has the following listed under the 'quick facts' on the CSR page: 

While the Core Services Review is underway, no additional City services will be undertaken until the review process is completed.

This would seem to imply, this council is serious about getting a firm handle on the city's finances and the direction we need to take going forward. Right?

Mayor talks of hiring more firefighters, police

That is the headline on a story in the local Daily of May 14 by reporter Spencer Anderson in which he reports Mayor McKay as saying he wants council to consider hiring additional firefighters and police officers next year, as well as a multimillion dollar proposal to upgrade city garbage trucks.

The story goes on to report that 20 new firefighters and 16 new RCMP officers and a $6.4 million capital cost for garbage trucks are a part of the additional expenses the Mayor seems to want council to consider. McKay said in the article that these expenses may not fit into the category of 'new services'.

If that is the opinion of Mayor McKay, then one might be forgiven for asking, what in hell is the point of spending a few hundred thousand on a CSR if he is already trying to stick handle his way around council's motion to freeze spending, pending the outcome of the CSR. 


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