By Chad Ingram
The County of Haliburton will award the contract for a service delivery review it will have conducted for itself and its four lower-tier municipalities to Toronto-based StrategyCorp.
Councillors voted to award the contract for the project which will be completed during the next few months at a Feb. 26 meeting. Council has been discussing conducting such a review during the past year. The study will look at the delivery of services in particular which tier is best suited to deliver which service opportunities for consolidation of services etc.
While initial staff reports regarding the project had referred to it as a “service delivery and governance review” with the implication the report may contain recommendations for the possible reconfiguration of the local municipal government structure more recent reports have referred to it only as “service delivery review.”
During last week’s meeting chief administrative officer Mike Rutter said the review would concentrate solely on service delivery and that any conversation about the potential reconfiguration of local municipal structure would be left to council based on the information in the review.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this will really deal only with service delivery” Rutter said adding that the information could then be used to inform any conversation on governance restructuring.
The county received eight bids on the project ranging in cost from about $65000 to about $225000 plus disbursements and taxes.
The bid from StrategyCorp was toward the high end of that spectrum at $219000 plus disbursements and taxes.
As Rutter explained proposals were evaluated by the county’s five chief administrative officers based on a number of criteria including understanding of the project and completeness of the proposal; methodology and work plan; experience and qualifications; and cost.
A short list of three companies chosen through the CAOs’ evaluations then made presentations to county council in closed session on Feb. 12 and councillors evaluated their presentations.
“The end result recommended that it be awarded to StrategyCorp “ Rutter said. “I have noted a few things in [my report] that really set their proposal apart.”
Rutter said the company had given every elected official in the county the opportunity to be interviewed and interviewed various municipal staff.
“Their consultation with staff didn’t just end with senior management or even middle management they interviewed the frontline staff as well which we thought was pretty unique and creative” he said.
“They had completed a number of similar projects” Rutter continued noting one in Newmarket that had resulted in significant cost savings from service delivery realignment. He said the company also has experience with small and rural municipalities.
Rutter’s initial estimate for the project which he’d noted at the time may be conservative was $150000. Heading into the process it was agreed that the upper tier would fund half the project while each of the lower tiers would contribute 12.5 per cent of the cost.
However the county was successful in an application for $150000 of modernization funding from the provincial government meaning the bulk of the project’s cost will be covered by a provincial grant.
While it was initially anticipated the project would be completed late in the year a stipulation of the grant funding is that the review must be complete by June 12.