Let’s have a committee struck to look into that


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Prior to this corner embarking on a summer hiatus a month ago, we had engaged Ald. Dave Warden in conversation regarding his motion to add an additional member to the council lineup.
The proposal was debated at the July council meeting and everything is on hold until September.
In the meantime, we checked in with Warden this week for a status update on council’s committee system, which needs a serious overhaul in his estimation.
“Come September, they’re going to review all the committees and there’s ones we shouldn’t even be sitting on. And that was my purpose to this whole thing. Let’s overhaul the committee system because there is too much redundancy and too much staff time being paid out.”
Couldn’t agree more. That’s why we love the definition of many committees: a group that keeps minutes and loses hours
It’s time for a complete review by CAO Wendell Graves and a determination as to how council somehow has been railroaded into providing a warm body to sit on an untold number of committees.
Apparently the list of committees with city representation runs to seven pages in length.
In a Monty Python world, all we need now is a committee struck to determine what to do with all the committees.
Warden figures it wouldn’t be difficult to initially trim that number by 15 to 20 groups.
To be honest, the scissors should be sharpened further.
“What has happened is every time something comes up, they form a new committee,” Warden advises. “And that’s the problem.”
Hmmm. Are we talking about something like the committee struck to look at a new indoor swimming pool, as requested earlier this year by Ald. Lori Baldwin-Sands?
“If there is a group of people out there who want to look at something like an indoor pool, let them do it,” enthuses Warden.
“Let them form a committee. Bring their findings to council for its consideration. That’s the way it should be.”
Absolutely. Because whatever the proposal, it has to receive an endorsement from council.
Here’s the nitty gritty, according to Warden.
“Why do you set a committee up and appoint a council rep to it? What purpose does it serve?”
Perhaps the committees in question feel a council rep adds credibility to their cause.
Sorry, but that is not the function of our elected officials.
The bottom line – rationalize the committee commitment and you won’t need an eighth alderman.
Who knows, you may be able to trim back on council. After all, that was the key recommendation in the McCarthy-Tetrault report of 2003.

EXPLORING ALL OPTIONS
Bill Sandison has been unsuccessful in his two attempts to gain a seat on city council. However, he does have one thing in common with aldermen Jeff Kohler, Mark Cosens and Baldwin-Sands – a deep-rooted opposition to the construction of a new police headquarters.
And, in a letter to members of council, Sandison suggests the city get rid of the existing police service and rely on the OPP. As a result, no need to build a new HQ or renovate the existing facility.
Sandison points out, “The OPP is the largest police force in North America and while their officers may be the highest paid next year, having gone two years without an increase, that does not necessarily translate into the highest cost for policing services.”
He explains, “in part due to economies of scale and how responsibilities are defined, the OPP is able to offer the most cost-effective policing to many communities.”
Could St. Thomas be one of those communities?
To better understand this rationale, he refers to a document entitled “Understanding OPP Municipal Policing Costs” which can be found at http://www.opp.ca/media/Understanding-OPP-Municipal-Policing-Costs-2012-Formula-05Oct12.pdf.
The 104-page document details how the OPP delivers policing services to 322 municipalities, on a cost-recovery basis.
Sandison notes the report was sent to Mayor Heather Jackson and is it safe to assume all members of council are familiar with it?
In conclusion, he implores “Prior to borrowing $19 million to build a new police station (as an aside, don’t believe a firm cost estimate has yet been established), it would be prudent to explore all options related to policing costs, including the cost of OPP municipal service.
“Council should ask the province for a cost-analysis of an OPP service contract for St. Thomas. Only then will council be in a position to make an informed and unbiased decision in the overall best interests of St. Thomas.”
An unlikely exercise, Bill, in the Barwick 4 era in which council now operates.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“But the focus should be on the general election coming up, not on by-elections and that’s where the party’s headed and hopefully to form a majority after the next election.”
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Jeff Yurek’s take on the Progressive Conservative’s lacklustre showing in five provincial by-elections on Thursday.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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