Organizational review seeks more efficiency for Town of Morinville


by Tristan Turner

Council has engaged Edmonton consulting firm Nichols Applied Management to conduct an Organizational Effectiveness and Efficiency Review for the Town of Morinville and the services it offers. The review was budgeted at $100,000 in the 2014 Budget, passed last spring. It is expected the review will take the next four months to complete.

In a release issued Friday, Mayor Lisa Holmes said Council sees the organizational review as an “important step to effectively plan for Morinville’s future” and that all of Council is “wholeheartedly” behind the review. In the same release, Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun said she believed the organizational review “will provide an opportunity to identify ways to be innovative and improve the delivery of quality public services, and the provision of facilities and infrastructure in Morinville.”

Interviewed later in the day, Mayor Holmes described the Council-led endeavour as going through and evaluating service levels by taking every single program or service that the Town of Morinville provides to residents and businesses, and evaluating it. “Is it what we need? Is it effective use of our time? Is it an efficient use of staff? Is it using our resources correctly?” she said. “We’re going to evaluate everything.”

However, Mayor Holmes was quick to clarify that the evaluation doesn’t necessarily mean a list of programs or services that will be cut however. “We’re not really sure at this point [if programs/services will be cut], we’re keeping it open and everything is on the table, but we’re not expecting that we’re going to receive a list back of things that we need to cut. We’re going to receive ideas of how we can be more efficient. It’s going to be things like policies that were missing, and gaps in how we’re operating certain procedures and policies that we have in place,” Holmes said, adding the Town’s snow removal program could be one area that the organizational review could look at for efficiencies.

While the initiative is Council led, Holmes said there would be some public consultation through the process. However, no official plans have been made for open houses or other public events as of yet.

The mayor also explained that updates will provided to Council throughout the next few months on the review already in progress. She said residents would be given access to this information in press releases and through Town social media channels.

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  1. There was once a time when voters expected their councils to come up with innovative and efficient plans. In theory, these ideas were a part of their platforms when seeking office. It seems that in the present day, one no longer has to put forth any ideas when campaigning, you just hire someone from the private sector to wow the audience. But at what price? What happens when you toss out $100,000 for some obscene plans and the taxpayers aren’t interested? I suppose then that the Mayor and council can turn to their electorate and say, “it wasn’t my idea.” What a cop out.

  2. The Town’s Organisational Effectiveness and Efficiency Review will be a crucial part of our new Council’s commitment to be more transparent and responsible with our precious tax dollars. After reviewing their web site and resumes, I’m optimistic that the consulting firm will be able to identify areas that are lacking in customer service (town web site), seem excessive (large payroll), or a waste of money (MCCC events that lose money). What I hope they don’t do is tell us what we already know and offer no tangible means to address the town’s administrative problems. Even more important, I hope that the consultants are tasked to provide a change management strategy that will teach everyone new ways of doing business, as well as an implementation plan that tells us how to use their ideas. What we don’t want is a written report with lofty language and Wikipedia information that is long in length and short on specifics, with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation that is dazzling but equally empty. Believe it or not, $100,000 won’t buy us a lot of time with them. My estimate is that we’ll see two people, full time, for 30 or so days, including time for analysis and report writing. More people will mean less time spent on the ground. That is not enough time to “evaluate everything” as our mayor would like. However, I’m a Maple Leaf fan and an optimist, so I hope (and I hate using that word) that we’ll get value for money and the effort justifies it. The most important piece of all, the plan to change the attitudes of Council, town administration and residents, will need to be a good one. As a resident and tax payer, I hope everyone succeeds. I applaud Council for doing it. Good luck!

    • Perhaps then, Brent, I am confused. We don’t have anyone on council who have their own ideas or initiatives to implement? There is no one on council who can offer any of their own insights? Not that this is a foreign idea, but I am somewhat leary of paying so called “experts” for their ideas. I also “hope” that we don’t spend $100,000 to save $50,000. You make reference to the MCCC. If the people we pay to operate it are not doing a satisfactory job, remove them and hire others who can.

  3. I believe that I suggested to at least one Council member that they could probably create a citizen advisory group of residents with the necessary experience to assist with both the contract and review. As a bedroom community, Morinville has more than its share of business owners/managers, CA/CGA/CMA accountants, lawyers, military members, MBA graduates and students, federal/provincial/municipal managers or employees, and others with the necessary experience who would likely volunteer. And their advice would have been free. But I do agree that an outside review and opinion are needed and the contracted company does seem to have the required experience and staff. A good review and a willingness to do things more efficiently will be well worth the money. But the required changes – changing people’s mindsets, overcoming complacency, doing what is best for the people who live in Morinville and not what they have always done – will take leadership, a willingness to do things differently and a plan. I hope that the contract or Council has included a change management strategy and implementation plan to put our $100,000 lessons into practice. Finally, if this review doesn’t look at things such as steep trajectory of the number of town employees over the past 14 years or the St Germain Place renovations contract overrun fiasco, we will not be getting value for our money. I ‘m sure that I will not be alone in watching very closely what happens during and after the review.

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