“ BMRA serves in an advocacy role with Town Council and staff on behalf of ratepayers to ensure and enhance our community’s quality of life.”
“Keeping the BMRA membership informed”
Catching up with our CAO, Shawn Everitt
The BMRA was recently able to sit down with Town CAO Shawn Everitt for an update on the key initiatives underway in the Blue Mountains. We covered a variety of topics, which we have summarized for your information.
Shawn is pleased with how the process is playing out for development of this year’s budget, which was presented rather exhaustively over four days of Council meetings. The key considerations included;
- Use of an ROI mindset. Shawn suggested that he has encouraged staff to adopt something of a private sector approach, with awareness of the impact of services delivery and operational efficiencies.
- First steps with a Zero-Based Budgeting (ZBB) model. ZBB is essentially a planning framework that:
- Establishes optimal service standards,
- Determines how to most effectively deliver to those standards, and
- Costs out the resources required for their delivery.
The ZBB pilot includes the introduction of electronic time sheets in the Finance and Administration departments, to give staff a clearer understanding of how they are allocating their time – and to what extent that matches the priorities identified for their roles. Shawn stated that this was an eye opener for him, in part because it showed the significant amount of time he has been spending on Committee work. The time sheets will be rolled out to all departments by mid 2020, which should strongly support efforts for achieving higher levels of operational efficiencies.
The BMRA Budget subcommittee will be reporting in detail on the 2020 Town budget over the next few weeks.
We discussed the “Infrastructure Implementation Gap” at some length – meaning that the execution of capital projects has been lagging the funding set aside for that work. Over time, that increases the risk that our infrastructure will prove insufficient for our pace of growth, and construction cost inflation may outstrip the funds allocated for the projects. Shawn stated that a significant step in addressing this issue has been the hiring of two Senior Construction Coordinators. Early returns on their efforts suggest that they will be able to help deliver more streamlined processes and cost savings, although there is a long road ahead of us in meeting our infrastructure requirements.
One specific area of progress Shawn referenced was the leachate issue at the Town waste facility. Apparently, improvement to the site’s drainage has reduced the amount of leachate being generated, which lessened the urgency for a costly investment in leachate piping or trucking systems.
The Town will also be utilizing communication resources to better inform residents of planned capital projects, which should help avoid surprises and better incorporate their input to project development.
Another example of taking steps to keep Town residents better informed of municipal initiatives are communications related to new development projects. The Town will be launching an interactive map for developments on their website, and also improving onsite signage. These actions should help to at least partly address some of the deficiencies we have observed with the model to inform and engage Town residents regarding residential development.
The BMRA would like to thank Shawn for making his time available for our discussion.