NANAIMO — The majority of Nanaimo's council is eager to get the wheels in motion for part two of the highly-touted Core Services Review.
Coun. Gord Fuller brought a motion to City Council Monday night, directing staff to start work on the next step of the review and determine what aspects of the City would be looked at, with the intent of starting the project as early in 2018 as possible.
Part one of the roughly $250,000 review, started in early 2015 and finished in May, 2016, audited 22 City services. 70 recommendations within the review laid out how the City could save more than $4 million. As of Oct. 30, 11 recommendations were complete with 31 in progress.
Whether any of the recommendations were completed doesn't matter, coun. Jerry Hong said.
“It doesn't even really bother me if we don't follow through on all the implementations,” he said. “At least it's there. It's just like all our other plans, master plans, (official community plans), everything else. We never do everything they call for and what they recommend.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe said it would be premature to move ahead with the review so early.
“We've still got an awful lot of work to do,” he said during council on Monday night.
Once the first phase is completed, Thorpe said he wanted to “step back and have a close look at what benefits the City received from (the review) in terms of savings and what costs it came at. I want to be able to examine the results of phase one before I say 'yes, lets go ahead to phase two.'”
How much will be saved by following recommendations in the review was a source of heated debate among councillors.
“This whole exercise from beginning to end has been about trying to cut costs,” coun. Diane Brennan said. “We haven't been able to show any. There's been no monetary evidence for us, there's no financials to back that up. We can see that because we have another tax increase that we hadn't expected we would get.”
As he had earlier, coun. Fuller said any savings found within the review wouldn't be known for some time.
“A lot of the decisions we made, like changing the purchasing policy and others...are going to take a couple of years before we realize how much money we're saving.”
He said he'd brought the motion forward because “I may not be elected next time. So I can't even say that I'll be here to move forward with it. I want to see this done and more and more of the recommendations implemented.”
The Review specifically didn't audit several parts of the City, including the Nanaimo RCMP, Fire Rescue and waterworks. The areas not reviewed account for roughly 45 per cent of the City's expenses, according to the initial report.
Coun. Bill Bestwick said it was his understanding whatever departments weren't reviewed in phase one would go under the microscope in phase two.
“We don't have control of the outcome. We approved a phase one and we didn't decide which departments were going to be in phase one,” Bestwick said.
However, according to the final phase one report, which departments were audited was decided by the Core Services Review Steering Committee. Previous agendas and minutes for the committee show it was comprised of mayor and council, with city manager Tracy Samra.
Fuller's motion passed 5-4, with Mayor McKay and coun. Brennan, Thorpe and Armstrong opposed.
The City of Nanaimo didn't respond to questions about the total cost or savings from phase one of the review by deadline.
On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit
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