Core review terms of reference set
Council passed two recommendations put forward by the select committee set up to help plan the core service review during Monday’s council meeting.
The first accepted the terms of reference the committee put together while the second approved the time line suggested.
Coun. Garth Frizzell, who confirmed the core review select committee meetings are open to the public, with meeting times and agendas posted on-line once the times are set, expressed some concern about the resources the committee might use.
“This is kind of the big boy on the block and I am concerned it will eat up the resources of all committees,” he said, explaining one lump sum is set apart for all committees to share in order to cover expenses like photocopying and such.
Since the core review select committee has a much larger scope of work than many other committees, and since it has a contingency fund of $350,000, he said perhaps it should be excluded from using resources from the other fund.
Frizzell also mentioned he’d like information about all the funds used by the committee to be available to the public as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a report to come back next year, far after the work is completed.
“This is a great opportunity to take a lesson from the last three painful years with the transparency issue,” he said.
Mayor Shari Green said when they get to the bidding process, the committee will know more in terms of the cost of the review. She added that, between April and August, while the review is ongoing, the committee will report on not only its status but the cost as well.
“We shouldn’t get into micro-management,” Coun. Albert Koehler said.
Coun. Cameron Stolz pointed out, with the changes to the governance and structure of committees, something the former council passed in the fall, all members of council can now attend meetings and the public is welcome at meetings as well, unless one is deemed to be in-camera, which can only happen for the same reasons council sets an in-camera session.
“So I want to stress all meetings are now open and transparent,” he said.
He added there will be an internal and external engagement process, bringing information from elected officials, the public as well as staff to the table.
“From my perspective core reviews are not about bringing taxes down but about spending taxes better,” he said.
He added he appreciates the concern about the budget, but $350,000 is a fraction of what the city spends annually.
“There is no hidden agenda,” he added.
“I think I understand the widespread interest of the City of Prince George in a core review,” Coun. Frank Everitt said. “There is a need for transparency and participation. This is their chance to be heard.”
Both recommendations passed at the council table.
A motion by Frizzell asking the core review committee be excluded from accessing the fund set aside for select committees did not get a seconder, and failed.