Core review could cost up to $350,000
The core review of city services will cost up to $350,000 and take until early fall to complete.
The review will be two-part, looking at core services and evaluating efficiencies as well as looking at revenue evaluation.
City manager Derek Bates, who was asked to bring back information on how to proceed with a core review, suggested one of the first things council do is establish a select committee consisting of three council members and the mayor. The select committee will come up with terms of reference and a proposed work plan and bring it back to council for approval. According to a timeline he put together, those documents should be available for approval at the Jan. 23 council meeting. In February bidding will start as council looks for someone to undertake the review. A contract should be awarded by mid-March to the end of March and the review will likely take from April to August to complete, with the results available by September.
Coun. Lyn Hall said he had concerns about both the timeline and the money involved.
“If there is an opportunity to start earlier and we can get the report back by July or August, then we can have that information available when we move into budget discussions next fall,” he said.
He added he hoped the $350,000 contingency budget was more than what was actually required, and said he had hoped the review would cost more in the $200,000 to $250,000 range.
Bates said five months was probably the minimum amount of time it would take to complete the review, and said if the select committee decided to reduce the scope of portions of the review, that would reduce costs.
Coun. Brian Skakun asked if the review would look at current capital projects and if any of those might be capped or put on hold, however 2012 projects are already underway and won’t be affected by the review. Bates added these projects are relatively modest.
Coun. Albert Koehler asked if the cost of the review was in line with what other communities have paid. Bates said the cost is very dependent on the scope, and other cities have spent anywhere from $100,000 to $1 million on a review.
Coun. Frank Everitt suggested the money be scaled back and the timeline be shortened.
“The $350,000 seems like a lot,” said Coun. Garth Frizzell who suggested $120,000 seems more in line.
He added $350,000 is a higher percentage than what should be spent from the city budget on a review.
Mayor Shari Green said she was surprised by the amount a review would cost when she was first given the report as well, however when she considered the result of the investment, she thought it would be worth it.
Council approved appointing a select committee and the job it would do, however opinions continued to differ when it came time to approve the amount to be set aside for the contingency fund.
Frizzell forwarded a motion to amend the amount to $120,000, but it failed when no one seconded it. Everitt forwarded a similar motion that the amount be amended to $250,000, which was seconded then defeated when only Frizzell, Everitt and Hall voted in favour of it.
Coun. Dave Wilbur said he cannot use his background to second guess the work done by Bates. Green added it was not an arbitrary number put forward by Bates, but one he came to after completing the investigation council asked him to do.
The motion to approve a $350,000 contingency fund was put forward and passed.
Frizzell requested that the select committee make all expenditures from that budget public.
The select committee will consist of Green, Coun. Cameron Stolz and Everitt.