Regina City council approves efficiency review of City Hall operations

Mayor Sandra Masters promised to find 15 per cent in efficiencies at city hall. Though that figure is absent from a report before council, a review is coming down the pipe, nonetheless. 

Mayor Sandra Masters is on pace to make good on one of her key campaign planks — to conduct an efficiency review at city hall.

In a 10-1 vote, council decided to move forward with Masters’s plan to conduct a review of city operations and to create an efficiency review sponsor team to provide advice to council on how to build back after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

Now that the review — which will cost up to $250,000 — has been approved, city manager Chris Holden said the city will issue a request for proposals “almost immediately.”

Masters’ campaign promise was to find 15 per cent in efficiencies at city hall, but that figure is absent from the report before council.

Coun. Landon Mohl (Ward 10) said while door knocking during the campaign, city efficiencies was the number one concern he heard.

Masters said Coun. Andrew Stevens (Ward 3) and a member of the community will co-chair the committee and will collaborate with Holden and local stakeholders.

“We’re trying to keep the committee small to keep it nimble,” said Masters.

Coun. Bob Hawkins (Ward 2) said he felt committee membership should be decided by council, and moved a motion to that effect. “If we’re going to have a committee with any credibility that’s advising council, council should vote the membership on that committee,” said Hawkins.

Council agreed and the motion passed unanimously though there was no further discussion of potential members, the size of the committee or when it would be chosen.

Coun. Cheryl Stadnichuk (Ward 1) said she had some concerns about what the efficiency review will mean, specifically regarding cuts to services and jobs. “What’s considered efficient can be subjective,” she said, adding that in the past, efficiency has meant privatization and failed attempts at Lean initiatives.

Echoing Stadnichuk’s concerns, Ward 6 councillor Daniel LeBlanc, the sole dissenter, asked administration what the city’s working definition of “efficiency” is, going into the review.

Holden said the city needs to continue to offer the services it does, “in a municipal setting there isn’t a huge opportunity to slash services,” he said.

Holden said the city will look to do more with the same, while looking to technology, reworking existing systems and streamlining processes to accomplish more at city hall.

“It’s not a goal to reduce the size of the workforce,” said Holden.

LeBlanc asked about the possibility of privatizing certain services offered by the city.

Holden said it was something that “you have to look at” but added that all recommendations from the review will come back to council for final approval, which means council will have final say on any decision.

Six to eight services, which will be picked by council, will be reviewed in the report. The review is expected to be completed in six months. The last such review was completed in 2004.

alsalloum@postmedia.com