In the May/June issue of Carlington Summit, I reported on the corporate review which was currently underway at the region. Last year, Council directed a comprehensive review of every program and service level provided by Regional government. We felt that it was our responsibility to deal with the overhead of government before considering reduction of service to the public. The ground rules set for the review underlined the requirement that we must hold the line on taxes.
A formal process was used to identify core (required by legislation or essential for the well-being of the community) and non-core (beneficial but not essential to ensure that the community functions) programs. The CAO's Report on the Corporate Review was tabled with Regional Council on May 22nd and received by Council on July 10, 1996.
Implementation of the changes in the report will result in a $13.1 million dollars in expenditure reductions for 1997. Results of Council's past decisions now reflect savings and account for $5.3 million dollars in efficiency improvements. These include the Improving Client Services project in the Social Services Department, Solid Waste collection and amalgamation of the Environment and Transportation Departments. A further $2.5 million in savings will be realized through administrative efficiencies in both the support and operating departments through technology, application of a single window approach for service and consolidation of functions. Another $1.2 million in reductions comes as a result of provincial changes to eligibility for welfare. A further $2.2 million will come from adjustments in service levels and elimination of some programs for a total forecast reduction of $11.2 million on the tax side. Of this, $1.3 million relates to reductions in grants to our delivery partners for various services, and a reduction in the allocation of one-time grants. The remaining $1.9 million in reductions are on the rate side and are brought about through operational and administrative streamlining. This is necessary to ensure that there is no property tax increase next year as a result of the expected reduction to provincial transfer payments in 1997.
The Corporate Review was built on numerous public consultation exercises undertaken both corporately and departmentally in the recent past. In the fall Council will be asked to make decisions on recommendations relating to grants. In addition, staff may recommend the phasing out of the senior's bus pass subsidy which represents an expenditure reduction of $800,000. These are examples of a couple of decisions to be made in the coming months.
Budget Directions '97
This is a companion report to the Corporate Review that outlines the Region's key budget directions for the coming year. It proposes several guiding principles for the preparation of 1997 draft operating and capital estimates.
Reduced funding support from the province continues to challenge the Region's ability to provide needed programs and services to its residents while maintaining or decreasing the tax burden on homeowners. This report will assist local ratepayers to gain a better understanding of the issues confronting RMOC.
The Budget Directions Report was tabled with Regional Council on May 22, 1996 and approved by Regional Council on July 10, 1996.
Your Regional Council will be asked to make some tough decisions in the coming weeks and months. In 1997 we will be faced with an expected $10 to $15 million in funding cuts from Provincial sources. As I have already stated, savings in water and sewer costs offset program cuts in 1996 but this money will not be available in the coming year. In these difficult times, I remain committed to holding the line on a property tax increase.
As we prepare to face the challenges of our budget deliberations, I invite you to contact me at any time to make your views known. Just call 560-1223 or write me at 111 Lisgar Street, Ottawa, K2P 2L7 or at my e-mail address: StewartWe@rmoc.on.ca.