The Ford government acutely knows of the financial realities hitting the provincial and municipal governments. Ford downloaded some provincial services to municipalities. Other services require a greater percentage of funding to come from municipalities. The service changes the Ford government made are to balance the Ontario budget. Unfortunately, this Ford government strategy puts budgetary pressures onto municipalities.
To assist municipalities facing this new financial reality. The Ford government created the $7.35 million Audit and Accountability Fund (AAF) for large municipalities and school boards to preserve frontline services while identifying savings and cost reductions.
The AAF uses the Municipal Reference Model (MRM). It helps municipalities understand their service delivery levels and enlightens future decisions. City Council selected KPMG to do the AAF, assuming the money secured from the Ford government. The AAF required no money from the City.
The KPMG Executive Summary states:
“the overall goal of the service review is to better understand the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of programs and services offered by the City (the “City”) and to identify opportunities consistent with the objectives of the Province of Ontario’s Audit and Accountability Fund (the “AAF’).”
AAF Program Requirements and Additional Opportunities:
Properly describe and evaluate the City’s operating structure and service levels
Critique the City’s operating effectiveness and efficiencies for its administrative processes
Present potential changes that will result in:
- The maintenance of adequate service levels
- Increased effectiveness and efficiency within the City’s processes resulting in potential cost reductions
- The modernization of municipal service delivery
New non-taxation revenue sources
Other matters contributing to the City’s long-term financial sustainability
Key themes from the service review included the Sault attained the minimum service level for most requirements. Most of Sault’s municipal services are essential or required by legislation. The City exceeded the minimum service levels in garbage collection, winter maintenance, city planning, and parking operations. Information technology delivered below minimum service levels. The Mayor acknowledged that the City’s information technology needs to be addressed. KPMG found no discretionary services to cut which leaves little room to reduce costs.
Information technology deficiencies increased staffing costs because of the additional time to complete different processes. Staff use manual workarounds that add time. The City relies on paper instead of electronic formats. For example, the City uses paper instead of saving documents as PDFs. The costs of paper increase expenses because of document movement and storage.
Overall, the service review provided by KPMG showed the Sault meets all but one provincial standard. The City is taking steps to fix the single deficiency. As for finding ways to reduce costs. It’s a wait and see for now.