County of Haliburton staff will assemble a working group to undertake a review of waste management practices.

They’ll also research options aimed at greater efficiencies.

It was just one of several suggestions in a service delivery review follow-up report by CAO Mike Rutter to a May 26 council meeting.

Rutter said the waste management working group will report back to council before the end of the year.

The future of landfills and transfer stations was just one item in a comprehensive report tabled by Rutter addressing next steps in the review.

Consultant StrategyCorp identified waste services as one of 12 highpriority initiatives for efficiencies in its final report released in November 2020. It said there were opportunities “to meet the needs of residents at a lower cost for communities.”

It suggested coordinating approaches to large waste policy and operational challenges with potential direct savings of $25,000. It also said Dysart and Highlands East could trim $25,000 each via a shared services agreement for Mumford Road and Harcourt landfills.

StrategyCorp also called for standardized waste policies.

“I’d really like to take waste management up to the County,” Coun. Pat Kennedy said. “If we had a little more volume with our neighbours, we might be able to get a better contracted price.”

“It’s an issue that urgently needs to be addressed,” said Coun. Cecil Ryall. “Eventually we can only shove so much stuff under the rug.”

Multiple councillors were enthusiastic about waste management streamlining – and exploring new technology that could allow incineration.

Warden Liz Danielsen said a goal of any work on waste management systems should aim to reduce confusion about where and how to get rid of waste.

“I see this as one of the more complicated issues we’re looking at,” Danielsen said.

Rutter also tackled fire, coordinated building, septic, and bylaw service efficiencies in his report.

While fire services across the County already collaborate extensively, Rutter said County staff will coordinate with fire chiefs to better understand possible needs for fire training and equipment sharing.

Haliburton’s CAOs suggested that building, septic and bylaw services are a top priority as a growing population means a flurry of building activity in the Highlands.

“This is one area where we hear a level of urgency, because of how busy our community has become,” Rutter said.

The StrategyCorp report outlines multiple ideas to tackle planning and bylaw: integrating municipal operations or centralizing them.

Rutter said County staff will consult with lower-tier municipal departments and come back with recommendations.

Many suggestions from the report, Rutter said, rely on the County integrating the way all four lowertier municipalities get materials and services, or centralized procurement.

For example, road construction, engineering and maintenance would require a collaborative budgetmaking process across the County’s municipalities.

“The goal would be to determine which projects are key to start on before 2022 budgeting begins,” Rutter said.

Many other processes which the report outlined, such as shared IT services, are already underway, Rutter said.

StrategyCorp also suggested hiring an economic development officer and County council has already approved that position and a job posting is currently in circulation.

Since the report’s suggestions cover nearly all areas of County operations, making changes and streamlining services across all four municipalities means a lot of work.

Danielsen said council should focus on completing the steps outlined by Rutter and StrategyCorp in a sustainable and measured way.

“Some of this work will take longer than others,” said Danielsen. “We just want to be making slow and steady progress.”

StrategyCorp estimated the County could save $900,000 in annual operating costs and $200,000 if staffing procedures were centralized and streamlined. After receiving the report, County council directed Rutter to report on timelines for each suggestion.

For the report from the county’s CAOs, visit haliburtoncounty.ca/ council

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