Lake Country looks for more fiscal efficiencies

Second phase of civic business system review is now underway.

The second phase of Lake Country’s civic business systems review is now underway.

The first phase, initiated in November of last year,  resulted in finding greater efficiencies in the local municipal bureaucracy. Four management positions and six union positions were cut, and three other new jobs created.

The net annual budget savings from those moves was about $700,000, equivalent of an eight per cent  tax increase.

The business systems review came in response to a public mandate to find operational savings and alleviate the tax burden to the community, as well as reduce the red tape on the development permit process, characterized as long, cumbersome, and difficult for both individual applicants and developers.

The second phase of this municipal hall review will look at organizational issues, such 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 timing of the review is important because the district is currently in the design stage to double the treatment plant capacity.

Concerning regional functions, council decided not to renew its Geographic Information Services (GIS) contract with the regional district.  In addition, the district is involved in a major review with its regional partners of the regional rescue services function.  The function 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, chief financial officer for Lake Country. .