Core Services Review finds finances in good shape

Thirty key findings and 21 recommendations are listed in the 85-page report

A key election promise by the new council has been fulfilled with the completion of a roughly $100,000 core services review of Mission, identifying strengths and weaknesses in governance.

The 85-page report, completed by Acton Consulting, assigned a corporate report card, made 30 key findings, and delivered 21 recommendations to be implemented based on a prioritized calender.

In general, Mission’s finances were considered on par or better than the average B.C. municipality financial ratios, receiving an A letter grade.

Mission has total tangible capital assets of $358.9 million, compared to $315.9 million for average comparables, while its long-term outstanding debt is $19.5 million compared to $28.3 million for other communities.

“We’re doing many things right as an organization, and employees are to be commended for that. There’s some areas we can improve in,” said chief administrative officer Ken Bjorgaard, who began the core services of review as finance director before taking over the district’s top job in June.

Internal Service Delivery also received an A, while Citizen Service Delivery, Policy, Human Resources, Communication (both public and internal), Forestry, Value for Money (2010 dollars), and Service Inventory all received a “B.”

Only Governance received a “C,” finding policies are not consistent with good governance practices. The report found 11 deficiencies in areas such as identifying roles for council, setting out a code of ethics, and performance management.

Chief administrative officer Ken Bjorgaard

“The District does not utilize performance measures to assess how each Department and Council is performing… the District is unable to provide citizens with a clear picture of how services are performing and often results in reactionary behavior,” the report read.

No dollar figures were provided on the estimated savings the district might see as a result of implementing the recommendations, but Bjorgaard said there are benefits to the review beyond just monetary ones.

“There’s changes in processes and ways of doing business that can arise from implementing some of these recommendations that will increase customer service and productivity down the road,” he said.

The review also found staff morale is low, with 90 per cent of participants within an internal employee survey responding with overly negative or no response at all.

Staff said they felt they were working below their capacity, micromanaged, or were unable to provide suggestions for improvement.

Forestry, according to the report,  is a premium product and a significant economic opportunity for the district, and should not be privatized.

Other recommendations include developing a comprehensive communication strategy both internally and externally, facilitated by the creation of a communications position.

Ironically, one of the key promises of the new council was the elimination of the communications officer, a job briefly held by Kathy Morse from September 2011 until February 2012.

The report also recommends eliminating council committee chairs because “it detracts from good discussion at council meetings.”

Implementation of the recommendations are listed in a timeline ranging from fewer than 90 days, to between 90 and 180 days, 180 and 360 days, and ongoing or undefined timelines.

“Council will be going through all the recommendations. There may be ones that they believe in and other ones they may ask for more information on,” said Bjorgaard.

Bruce Acton will be presenting the report to the public on Thursday, July 19 at the Leisure Centre Gymnasium at 7 p.m. A copy of the report is available online at www.mission.ca, the library, the Leisure Centre, and a CD is also available at municipal hall.