City cuts committees to improve efficiency
Some citizens involved in decision-making at Vernon city hall are being handed their walking papers.
It’s expected that 15 committees of council will be slashed to seven as part of a restructuring although details of the specific committees have not been released.
“We’re letting the committees know what’s happening,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky, adding that members are being contacted before specifics go public.
“We want to treat all of the citizens who have volunteered their time with respect.”
The committees, which consisted of volunteer residents, are accessibility, advisory planning, affordable housing, athletic commission, audit, biosolids, board of variance, economic development, environmental, finance, heritage, parking, sister cities, tourism and transportation demand management.
The concept of cutting committees first surfaced in the 2013 core services review by KPMG.
“There’s too many committees and we’re spending too much staff time and resources on them,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.
“In order to improve efficiencies, we need to do this.”
That view is also held by Sawatzky.
“Many committees duplicated work and some will be combined and when a specific issue comes up, we can form a committee that has a shelf-life until the issue is addressed,” he said.
It’s not known how much money the restructured committee model could save the city.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham isn’t concerned that major issues will go ignored if there isn’t a separate committee to deal with them.
“It will be the responsibility of council to respond to those concerns,” she said.
“When you see what we’re doing, it will make a lot of sense.”
One of the apparent challenges was finding residents willing to volunteer their time.
“We had trouble filling vacancies on committees and some committees couldn’t get a quorum for a meeting,” said Quiring.
Beyond council committees, which require mandatory councillor attendance, there are about 14 community committees. It’s not known if they will be reduced in number.
“They are free-standing and at the discretion of council whether they want to attend,” said Sawatzky.
The restructuring process should be completed by May 1.