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Coalhurst to consider service level policy

Posted on April 4, 2024 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

The Town of Coalhurst will be discussing what a potential service level policy will look like in an April Committee of the Whole meeting.

During their regular March 19 meeting, Coalhurst council considered a request to develop a level of service policy.

The request, which was jointly submitted by councillors Deborah Florence and Scott Akkermans, indicated they wished for council to adopt a policy document to assist in governing service delivery.

Florence said both she and Akkermans had recently taken a service delivery course, and from that, have brought this motion forward. 

“I do think we have great internal indirect and direct services in town, and I think the Town does an exemplary job at services like snow removal and the likes, and I always consider myself pretty lucky to live in a community with great services, and this isn’t a dig at any services happening,” said Florence. “To me, it’s about the process of defining service level, and the cost to the services, aligning those to the strategic plan, gauging affordability and wiliness for service and giving us a clear way talk to residents.”

During the course, Florence had looked at the Town’s bylaws and policies, and while they did have one clear service policy, regarding the fire department, and a few policies that referenced service levels, “it was not clearly set”. While acknowledging it would be a huge undertaking, she thought it could coincide with a future project.

Because council is responsible for determining the services that will be provided by the municipality, the scope of these services, how these services will be financed, and the overall delivery approach, the argument was they should have a policy to define these things.

Coun. Heather Caldwell voiced support for the idea, but thought it would be a more long-term plan as they would need to engage the community to get their residents’ thoughts on it.

“My understanding of this is to set kind of a baseline document of where we are at for service levels, so when we are looking at possible budget adjustments, then we can look at (whether) we lower some service levels (and) increase other ones, and when we’re getting feedback from residents, town budget time, we can take that with a look at how we can adjust,” said Akkermans. “I think this one would be more internally focused on where we are at.”

Caldwell agreed with the idea of a more informal approach, acknowledging that it will be a lot of work administratively.

CAO Shawn Patience said he would like for council to “figure out what the goal is” for this policy, because he can not give council a task breakdown for the policy by the suggested date of August. 

“I think there are pieces to this puzzle, and tomorrow I can shoot you a couple of examples of three different service delivery analysis that are completely different from each other,” said Patience. “I think we would want to find what is the target here first, so we’re not just shooting off into space.”

Council passed a motion to move the levels of service policy discussion to the April 9 Committee of the Whole meeting.

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