County of Wetaskiwin decides 6-1 to consider audit

County of Wetaskiwin decides 6-1 to consider audit

Topic of reviewing staff, costs, efficiency finally comes to decision

A topic County of Wetaskiwin council has been discussing for weeks has finally seen a decision made.

The councilors have been discussing a possible “efficiency audit” over several council meetings, but they finally decided at their Feb. 11 regular meeting by a 6-1 vote to request an expert on municipal efficiency come speak to council directly about what types of reviews are available.

The discussion on this topic was fairly animated. County CAO Rod Hawken presented the item to council.

“At the Council General meeting held January 29th, 2019 Council was provided an update on costs to conduct an efficiency audit as per Council’s direction at the Council General Meeting of December 18th, 2018,” stated Hawken in his report.

“At that time Council resolved: ‘that Council table the Efficiency Audit discussions to the next Council General meeting of February 11th, 2019 for additional information’.

“Administration investigated three more reviews from the following: Brazeau County – completed a Service Capacity Review for $18,000. The report was presented to Council ‘closed to the public’ and was not available for release. A copy of the RFP was provided for Council.

“Lacombe County – completed an Organizational Review and Efficiency Audit for $35,000. The consultant did not focus equally on the two factors and as such, Council did not accept the reports’ findings. A copy of the RFP was provided for Council.

“Clearwater County – has not recently completed any reviews. The CAO made a few organizational changes after the last election.”

Hawken stated if council wanted to hire a consultant, staff would need some direction on what council was looking for.

Councilor Ken Adair asked his peers, are councilors concerned the municipality is understaffed or overstaffed?

Hawken reiterated that councilors should decide what they want to examine and then determine a budget for the consultant.

Councilor Kathy Rooyakkers stated she would like to know if there are staff gaps, staff with specific skills that the county doesn’t have. She went on to say her concerns are to ensure taxpayer funds are being used wisely.

Councilor Lyle Seely stated a review similar to what Brazeau did might work.

Adair again asked his peers what review is needed. “There’s nothing clear here…what are we after?” asked Adair.

Reeve Terry Van de Kraats noted the county staff already does things like cross-training and succession planning, and also wondered what council wanted to examine.

Councilor Bill Krahn noted the City of Camrose recently did a review that cost about $70,000, which he said is a fair bit of money. Krahn suggested council discuss this subject more informally to determine exactly what council wants.

Councilor Dale Woitt said he didn’t see any reason to do a review right now, and said it seems council was talking about hiring a consultant to do what the CAO already does. Woitt also suggested budgeting funds for a future review would be a good idea.

Krahn said he felt council needed to make a decision on this subject. Councilors voted 6-1 for staff to investigate inviting a consultant to come speak to councilors directly about what types of municipal reviews are available.

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca