CORNER BROOK — The City of Corner Brook has brought down its budget for the coming new year, but is already looking at what needs to be done to help shape the budget that will follow for 2015 and beyond.
Part of that process will be the efficiency review of city operations announced in the 2014 budget delivered Monday night.
During deputy mayor Bernd Staeben’s budget speech, he referenced that the city has allocated funds to hire a third party to conduct a review of the municipality’s entire operations in the new year. The review, which Staeben said would be conducted in the first quarter of 2014, will analyze all aspects of the organization to identify areas for improvement and savings.
The review will not only seek input from city council, management and staff, but will also consult with city residents and the business community to see what they all need and want from the city.
Mayor Charles Pender said a committee comprised of council and staff will soon be constituted to come up with terms of reference for the review. A request for proposals from potential external consultants interested in conducting the review is expected to be made early in the new year.
It may take another four to six weeks to select the consultant, who will then go about the process of analyzing how the city operates and what can be done to reduce its expenses while providing the services and infrastructure that people want and require.
The process once the consultant has been retained, said Pender, might take anywhere from six weeks to four months.
He hopes the city will have some sort of draft report by the end of June or thereabouts.
“All of this would feed into the next budget and that would give us some time to look at how we do things, how we will realign ourselves or what it is we need to do,” said the mayor in an interview Tuesday.
It has been about 15 years since the last time Corner Brook has undergone this sort of analysis of its operations, noted Pender, and the population has gotten both older and smaller in that time. Much of the city’s infrastructure has also continued to age since the last extensive review.
The mayor did not want to prejudge what Corner Brook needs to do to make its operations more efficient.
“There are all kinds of possibilities,” he said. “I’m not going to guess ahead of time what’s going to happen. We want to provide the best services we can for the least cost. That’s always going to be a balancing act.”
Reducing the city’s overall costs could help convince more people to want to come live here, Pender added.
The mayor would not say how much money has been set aside for the review, saying the exact amount has actually not been determined but would be included under the global amount the city has budgeted for professional services.