Town pays consulting firm to fix administrative issues

Rimbey town council has already paid a consulting firm several thousand dollars to fix administrative issues

Rimbey town council has already paid a consulting firm several thousand dollars to fix administrative issues which are alleged to be serious and it appears the town will continue to employ the firm for an undetermined length of time.

Donna Tona from Transitional Solutions has worked at the Rimbey town office for six days at a cost of $1,200 a day to delve into town policies and bylaws, many of which she says are archaic and inadequate. However, according to her report it seems she has just reached the tip of the iceberg.

“You need help,” she told council at its July 28 meeting. “I’m not blaming administration. This is years of stuff. Some of the policies were written on a typewriter. It isn’t a criticism. If you don’t find this stuff then you can’t fix it.”

Traditional Solutions was initially hired by the town earlier this summer to help Lori Hillis, who was then the acting CAO.

While working with Hillis, a number of issues were identified that required re-structure, said Tona.

She said she found the development agreement files in the office required organization and review and should be given timelines for action.

“This not only protects the municipality but fosters good business relations with developers, she said in an earlier report.

“You are lucky you have honest developers.”

Tona said the files relating to peace officers are “woefully inadequate (and) very light.”

She also noted the land-use bylaw has no provision for public utility right of way.

“These right of ways cannot be used for residential or personal purposes and some of them in the municipality may have to be grandfathered,” she said.

Tona suggested council look at going to tri-annual budgeting process and passing a proper budget by Dec. 31 of each year.

“There is no excuse for not having a budget completed by the end of December,” she said.

Rimbey’s emergency plan is also “woefully bad,” she said.

Tona also suggested administration develop a good working relationship with the Rimbey Ratepayer’s Association which would help keep the lines of communication open with council.

“There’s nothing secretive about a municipality. Land, legal and personnel is what you go in-camera for. Other than that business is discussed openly.”

Committee of the whole meetings which are open to the public need to be held once a month, she said, adding agenda items that clearly encompass municipal issues need to be identified. This allows council and administration the time to discuss these items in depth before they are tabled on the council agenda.

The town needs to consider a new look as well,” said Tona.

“You need to decide what you want to be. You have lots of land, lots of space, lots of opportunity.”

Mayor Rick Pankiw said council has not set a time frame as to how long they will use the services of Transitional Solutions.

“We hired her to bring a list to council (of administrative concerns).”

Pankiw said now they have the list they will turn it over to CAO Lucien Cloutier to determine the most efficient way to deal with the concerns.

The mayor commended Tona for the work she had completed so far.

“If we use your expertise, in six months we will be where we are supposed to be and we can go forward from there,” he told Tona at the council meeting.

Cloutier said no decision has been made as to how long the firm will be employed by the town.

He said Tona is now completing a review of the town’s enforcement regulations.