Erin council candidates agree there are cost savings to be had – the question is how to get there.
Selected councillor and mayoral candidates responded to a question on the topic at a Ballinafad meeting on Oct. 2.
“Finding efficiencies are absolutely critical,” said candidate Matt Sammut.
He said the town is planning to undertake an independent operational efficiency review to determine how productive staff are.
“We may be surprised and find they are extremely productive and efficient.”
But he added different eyes are needed to look at the issue.
“The challenge is that we’ve had so many people doing the same thing for a lot of years. When you have that you don’t have a fresh look to come up with different results.”
He contended Erin is on a slippery fiscal slope “and there could be serious trouble if we don’t turn it around fast.”
With only 4,000 homes, very little industry and a commercial sector that is hurting, Sammut said “we need to make sure we do this well and we need some good minds to do it.”
Candidate George Silva said like many residents of the town, “I don’t know what the books of the town look like.”
He said the upcoming review will provide a report for the new council to indicate where the town could cut back or make improvements.
“One thing we have to stop doing is shelving ideas the infrastructure demands we work on.”
Silva pointed to the Hillsburgh pond and bridge which need a permanent repair but the idea appears to have been shelved by council.
“What you put off today will cost 20 per cent more next year. We have to move forward. We can’t afford to keep shelving these projects.”
Candidate Jamie Cheyne said costs are a big deal in Erin. He noted only 20 per cent of overall tax dollars go to the town.
“Therefore what we do cut is important.” He said he feels the operational review is one way of doing that. But he also said there are other areas which could provide potential cost savings. One of those areas could be in parks and recreation, which includes two arenas and two arena managers.
“They are both nice people but perhaps there could be a different system there,” said Cheyne.
*Not all candidates were offered a chance to speak to every question at the Oct. 2 Ballinafad meeting.