Haliburton County council has formally given the green light to proceed with a service delivery and governance review.

During a special meeting Sept. 6, councillors approved Warden Liz Danielsen and CAO Mike Rutter attending upcoming meetings at Algonquin Highlands, Dysart et al, Highlands East and Minden Hills to present their proposal and seek resolutions of support.

Rutter has also been directed to work with the local CAO’s, Angie Bird, Tamara Wilbee, Shannon Hunter and Lorrie Blanchard, to draft a request for proposal (RFP) – to tender out the work to a consultant.

The county will pay 50 per cent of the cost, with the lower tier municipalities chipping in 12.5 per cent each. The overall cost estimate is now $150,000.

“These are exciting days,” said Minden Hills mayor Brent Devolin. “I’m looking forward to the next year.”

Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt agreed it was exciting. She’s also “curious about where we’ll all end.”

In a report to last Friday’s meeting, Rutter said the process would be co-ordinated by the five CAO’s with some involvement from elected officials. He said they would draft the RFP, evaluate responses and recommend a consultant.

Warden Liz Danielsen suggested that short-listed candidates come before county council so they can get a feel of, and be comfortable, with them, since it’s a “very big deal and will affect everything we do.”

Rutter agreed and said CAOs and some politicians will then approve the consultant’s workplan and schedule, monitor the process and review final recommendations for presentations to county and lower-tier councils. As part of the review, Rutter said councils will be called upon to make choices.

“What services to deliver, what outcomes the municipality expects from its services, who should pay for them, whether and what citizens should pay for certain services, whether a service could be provided at a lower cost, whether all the things that go into delivering a service are really necessary, and who should deliver those services?”

Once the consultant has delivered their final report, each council would review and make comment on the recommendations. The decision-making process for any changes in how services are to be delivered would be the subject of a subsequent report to be developed as the service delivery review unfolds.

Rutter emphasized that service levels have to be determined before they can decide on governance. The county CAO added that if there are any significant changes in governance, those changes should be ready to be operationalized at the beginning of the next term of council.

“In order to provide 24 months for the substantial planning that would be necessary to implement a change of such magnitude, it is recommended that the RFP be released in late 2019, with a report back to council(s) no later than Fall 2020.”

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