Letter: It’ll be in the Puddin’…

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It’s underway.

An August 15 News Release stated, “This is a Council led project… to ensure that we are providing the highest service level at the best possible value…” The release went on to promise “… a detailed analysis of Morinville’s organizational efficiency, effectiveness and accountability that will generate a roadmap for change.” Good stuff!
Reviews are only as good as the questions that are asked… and the questions that are studiously avoided.

Be interesting to see how this one pans out. The proof will be in the pudding. And puddin’ can be tricky.

Our Councillors have a determined appetite for questions and are routinely audacious enough to even expect answers. They have not yet succumbed to the gooey batter of corporate group think. Varied opinions, fresh ideas and energetic debate endure.

A few pots that might benefit from a little stirring during the review?

The budgeted cost to operate the Morinville Community Cultural Centre for 2014 is $772,213, increasing to an estimated $803,410 by 2016.

Corporate Operations bubbled up from $308,035 in 2013 to $591,619 in 2014.

Chief Administrative Office (CAO) costs grew from $481,365 in 2013 to $582,756 in 2014.

The Summary of Tax Supported Expenditures by Department shows a 2013 Budget of $11,053,368. The 2014 Budget is $12,158,385.

The Town of Morinville 2014 Census notes a population increase of 833 persons, an increase of 9.7% since 2011. Overall Tax Supported Expenditures by Department have increased from an Actual of $8,807,641 in 2010, to a Budget of $12,158,385 in 2014. Up 38%. The dough keeps rising.

A few constructive suggestions?

Written policy requiring that an Effectiveness and Efficiency review take place every five years.

Written policy requiring the development of a business plan(s) for major operational commitments… like the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

Written policy outlining community engagement processes, and Council decision making procedures, for major capital projects…like the pending arena replacement.

Dedicated Councillors can sometimes be left frustrated and exhausted on the margins, spending long hours trying to trim the toppings in discretionary spending, while never being provided the objective analysis needed to challenge embedded operational costs in any meaningful way.

One most recent example might be our Councillors’ valiant attempts to unearth a coherent business plan for the Morinville Community Cultural Centre that opened in May, 2011. Three years down the road… no plan… no GPS… lots of queries… no map light. Are we lost maybe?

Anywhooooo…

A professional review can provide objective insights for all, guidance and direction for Council and Administration, and assurances that Morinvillians are indeed, or soon will be, receiving “the highest service level at the best possible value…”

Promises of “efficiency, effectiveness and accountability” are the gewgaw sprinkles and gummy sparkles of public relations these days.

It’ll take some sweets and bitters, sugars and salt. Some stirring, a little heat. Time to cool, to chew. Digest. And reflect.

Will Morinvillians be treated to a review jammed up with empty calories and sugary platitudes… or given access to a transparent report stuffed with proteins and the essential ingredients for substantive change?
It’ll be in the puddin’.

Yours truly,

Paul G. O’Dea
Morinville Resident

(Budget Information Source Document: Morinville 2014 Operating Budget and Capital Plan, Town of Morinville website).

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3 Comments

  1. Great letter Paul. A good many folks are excited about the combination of an inquisitive council and a 3rd party operational review. I think this will either have a positive effect on our much-higher-than-average tax rates, or at least we’ll get a good comparative picture of the services we are getting for our tax dollars.

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