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County council to ponder priorities

by Patrick Raftis

GUELPH - Wellington County council members will dedicate a half-day to a strategic planning session, facilitated by Warden George Bridge, sometime before June 30.

The move is a response to requests by some council members, notably Wellington North Mayor Andy Lennox and Centre Wellington Mayor Kelly Linton, for council to take a more active role in setting budget priorities.

Lennox led an unsuccessful push in January 2015 to delay passage of the 2015 budget in order to give new councillors time to get up to speed, and all councillors time to put their own priorities into the budget.

Both Lennox and Linton voted against the 2016 budget at the Jan. 28 meeting.

“This council as currently constituted has not had a session to talk about priorities,” stated Lennox at the time.

Council, at its April 28 meeting,  approved an administration, finance and human resources committee recommendation to set a date to consider council priorities.

A report from county CAO Scott Wilson notes that while the county has organized breakaway weekends for councillors and senior staff during previous terms, no such activity has been conducted during this term of council.

Each councillor was asked to provide to the clerk’s department the issues/priorities they feel are of most importance for group discussion. The clerk will categorize the issues/priorities, and the top three to five will form the basis of the half-day council strategic planning session.

‘Little discretion’

In his report, Wilson noted, “Corporately speaking, the county has reasonably little discretion in terms of the services it offers/delivers. The services which are mandated by the province consume the highest percentage of the county levy and budget, and tend to be regulated and monitored strictly – leaving little room for discretion. Police, the (Wellington) Terrace and social services are chief among the mandated services. The most prominent services the county provides, which are completely within its policy discretion are: museum and archives, libraries, Green Legacy, child care centres and affordable housing.”

 

May 13, 2016

 
 

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