The implementation of the District of Lake Country’s Business Systems Review initiated in November 2011 continues and phase II is now underway.
In a press release the district said the initial phase of the reorganization dealt mainly with the organization itself. It came in response to a clear mandate to find operational savings and alleviate the tax burden to the community; as well as the development permit process which has been characterized as long, cumbersome and difficult for both individual applicants and professional developers.
“As a result, the district has reduced its staff complement by eliminating four management positions and six union positions; and has added three positions to meet strategic priorities of council and balance capacity issues,” said Alberto De Feo, Lake Counrty’s chief administrative officer.
“The net annualized savings are just below $700,000 which is the equivalent of about eight per cent tax increase.”
Amendments to the Development Permit Application process and significant changes to applicable bylaws to streamline the process and timelines were made with the intent of cutting red tape and making things easier for the taxpayers, residents, businesses and potential investors.
Fees are also part of the change and they have been reviewed and new ones will be approved by council at the beginning of September.
Phase II of the Business Systems Review considers some organizational matters, as well as contracted services and regional functions.
The district continues to contract out most of its road and sewer system maintenance. Given their size and scope, these contracts in particular, are being reviewed to look for more efficiencies and to maximize the district’s value-for-money.
With respect to the sewer system operational contract, the district says the timing of the review is important because it is currently in the design stage to double the treatment plant capacity.
With respect to regional functions, council decided not to renew its Geographic Information Services (GIS) contract with the regional district.
In addition, Lake Country is involved in a major review with its regional partners of the Regional Rescue Services function which includes about 12 different services including fire dispatch, hazmat and marine rescue.
“The structure of the region and the capabilities of the fire departments within the region have changed dramatically since most of the function was established,” said Steve Windsor, Lake Country fire chief.
“We believe there are efficiencies and savings to be found.”
Finally, a review of the development cost charge (DCC) program, which collects fees from development to help build critical infrastructure, will be done.
With the adoption of a new OCP in 2011 and the near completion of a new Water Master Plan and Liquid Waste Master Plan, the current DCC program needs to be updated.
“The update will also take into account changes in projects, growth patterns and construction costs since the last comprehensive review was completed in 2005 and will include consultation with the development community,” said Stephen Banmen, Lake Country’s chief financial officer and deputy chief administrative officer.