Owen Sound City Council has started the five month process of reviewing every city service.  The 600 page staff report that Council is discussing contains at least 60 recommendations, and comparative data from three other municipalities.  Here are City Manager Wayne Ritchie's opening comments and some essential comparisons with Brockville, Orangeville and Collingwood.

"The Mission Statement for Service Review 2016 is "To provide Council and tax payers with a comprehensive awareness of the services and programs offered by the City, and to identify which should be enhanced, reduced, remain as they are, or even be eliminated."
The documents that we will review in the next two days should provide Council and the taxpayer with why,  what and how for every City service.

The Municipal Act defines one of Council's roles as determining which services the municipality will provide. How does Council make those decisions?
The City's Strategic Plan provides the long term vision of what Council would like the City of Owen Sound to  be. The plan was crafted after extensive public input and it provides goals and objectives that Council and the public deem to be important. Services and programs offered by the City should support the objectives of the  Strategic Plan. Other plans approved by Council provide year to year guidance for staff and the public on how the City will move forward. These plans include the Official Plan, Asset Management Plan, Transportation
Master Plan, Recreation Park s and Facility Master Plan, Budgets, etc.
Each City Department prepares work plans of major tasks and initiatives they will undertake annually. Each task should align with the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan and the other plans approved by Council.
Each Division follows standard operating policies and procedures and applicable regulations to provide services to the tax payer each week.
Regular engagement between tax payers, Council and staff provide the necessary feedback, ensuring the services offered are the correct ones, at the right level, in an efficient manner. City Council is in the second year of its four year term. Council has sufficient "on the job" experience to review the services the City provides and can implement changes should they deem any are required.
The mission statement for Service Review 2016 is: "To provide Council and tax payers with a comprehensive awareness of the services and programs offered by the City, and to identify which should be enhanced, remain as they are, reduced, or eliminated."
The City's Strategic Plan has a vision for Owen Sound: Where You Want to Live.
Taxpayers need services such as road and sidewalk maintenance, building inspection and planning controls, police and fire protection, water and waste water services, etc.
Other services they want to have such as parks and recreation, arts and culture, tourism and events, etc. Could a community that provided only the required services claim that it was Where You Want to Live?
As we work through this review we should remember that no two municipalities are identical. For example comparing an urban municipality with a rural municipality is unfair to both. Other factors including population, geography, climate, etc., can make comparisons challenging. As well taxpayer s in one community may require certain services to be emphasized over others. It is these ratepayer preferences that make each municipality unique.
Throughout Service Review 2016, three municipalities have been used as comparators to Owen Sound. They are Brockville, Orangeville, and Collingwood. In the short term, comparators can provide basic information on the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a service provision. In the longer term, staff can seek out best practices from other municipalities for constant improvement.
Some community data for each of the municipalities include:
                                    Owen Sound     Brockville     Collingwood      Orangeville
Population                        22,207            22,376          21,405            29,549
Pop. Change 2011-15         +2.4              +2.3             +11.2             +5.6
Age   0-19                           20 %              20 %            20 %             28 %
       20-64                           57 %              57 %            57 %             60 %
         65 +                          23 %              23 %            23 %             12 %
Household Income           $69,642           $66,480          $83,828         $93,252
Assessment Per Capita     $87,267           $92,739         $165,591       $113,095
Fire Net Cost Per Capita     $213               $264              $190               $90
Police Net Cost Per Capita  $340               $356              $163              $252
Tax Levy Per Capita          $1,741           $1,490            $1,815          $1,486

(Information taken from BMA Management Consulting Inc. Municipal Study 2015)

Over the next two days we will review every division that is administered from City Hall. Each Division will be analyzed under the following topics:-Rationale for Service-Present Arrangement for Service-Current Operating
Costs-Capital Budget Requirements (short term)-Performance Indicators-Link to Strategic Plan-Analysis Options
This information is the starting point from which Council can focus on the service each division provides to the rate payer. For some of the more complex areas there will be reports attached that provide more details. Where the City Manager and Department Director feel an analysis option warrants further study it will be recommended.

Public engagement is a crucial element and a Service Review 2016 Public Forum will be held in the coming weeks. At that forum the information presented in this document will be summarized and the items thatCouncil has asked be investigated further will be discussed with the public. Public input will also be encouraged through the City's social media sites and "places and spaces" engagements. Input from City employees is also being sought through a variety of mediums and platforms. Once the public and staff input has been summarized, Council will meet again to review the results. This input will assist Council to provide final directions to staff on the Analysis Options. When all of the options have been considered, a Final ServiceReview Council Meeting will be held. At that meeting Council will approve/not approve implementation of any Service Adjustments. There will be one final Service Review 2016 Public Forum to provide information to the public on what changes may be implemented and how they may be affected.
This process will involve Council, staff and the public staying engaged...Owen Sound is a wonderful place to live, work and play. A successful Service Review will remind Council, rate payers and staff of the many municipal services that help to make Owen Sound Where We Want to Live.




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