Okay, here is the last set of grades for Council and Staff. See my earlier posts, here and here, for previously assigned grades and information on the process and intent of this exercise.
Staffing – A
As was mentioned in an earlier post this is a team (Staff and Council) that is relatively inexperienced in working together. This is the result of four members of Council being newly elected or in a new position, and the addition of four new senior Staff members. In particular the members of Staff, while not inexperienced in their responsibilities, are new to Parry Sound. So how are these new Staff members performing and what is the hiring/staffing performance grade?
A solid A.
Between senior Staff, led by the CAO, and Council I think the Town has managed to stock their team with first round draft choices. Performance to date has been excellent and these individuals have shown themselves to be client friendly and competent. I’m not sure we could have asked for more.
At the same time the senior Staff has been slimmed down by combining some functions. So despite player changes and a reduced payroll the Town hasn’t missed a beat. A great performance by Council and senior Staff to renew and revitalize the talent pool we depend on to lead and manage Parry Sound.
Committees and Community Involvement – F
This is perhaps the my greatest disappointment with Staff and Council over the now expiring term of Council. There are hardly any committees active that are not required by statute, for example the Committee of Adjustment. The optional advisory committees have seemingly vanished for lack of interest and Town support.
Support in my opinion encompasses more than creating committees, organizing meetings and filing away minutes; it means providing the means for the committees to address their objectives with the results being brought before Council for review and, as appropriate, action.
That has not been my experience to date, and others share this opinion. The point was highlighted by the request of the public members of the Finance Committee to have their committee be dissolved, not that long after it was established. Council’s decision to unilaterally remove the head of the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association exemplified their apparent displeasure with active volunteer input and leadership. And the cut and paste effort by Staff in putting together a Committee Rights and Responsibilities Policy, and Council’s rubber stamp approval of the policy, seems to reflect Council and Staff’s lack of interest in actively involving the community in developing objectives, strategies and tactics to move the Town forward.
By my count there are about 6 active committees, 9 inactive committees and 4 for which I have no information. The six active committees for the most part have board-like responsibilities including financial oversight. It’s the softer committees like the Municipal Heritage, Civic Pride and Finance committees that are no longer active. They have just fallen away as a result of apathy on the part of the Town and the community.
Are committees a barometer for the mood of the Town’s residents and it’s Council and Staff? Does it suggest a lack of interest or a lack of trust? I don’t know, but I do believe in ‘The Wisdom of Crowds’. More input by concerned individuals with independent ideas is almost always better than the input of a select few. Council and Staff should put rejuvenating the committee process on their list of priorities for the next term.
Services – A
This includes an A for quality and an A for attitude. I have the opportunity to interact with Staff and Council on a regular basis. I have found them to be responsive and courteous, even when I have tough requests and questions.
The services provided by the Town in my estimation are first-rate and provided in a timely fashion. Perhaps we pay a little more in taxes in Parry Sound but we receive value, from snow removal to parks to fire protection to great public facilities to, just about everything.
Enough said, keep up the good work.
Final Grade – B
Well actually it was just short of a B and I rounded it up to properly reflect the overall performance of Council and Staff. The Education grade was not used in the calculation because I suspect Council and Staff never realized it was ‘required for graduation’, sort of like the requirement of high school students to complete forty hours of community service. It doesn’t matter if you scored A on all your courses; there are still non-course requirements. I will have more to say in a future post about enhancing the educational achievement aspirations of the community. You need to set a goal before you can reasonably expect to achieve it.
I will offer one more performance related post before the upcoming election and then pay closer attention to what the candidates have to say. I’m not sure what some candidates mean when they say it’s time for a change. They need to change their part-time job, or the Town needs to change? If so, where and how? It will be interesting to listen to what each candidate says they have to offer in terms of new ideas and areas for community improvement. With the free tools of social media it is easy and inexpensive to share ideas. This blog is one example.
Parry Sound, a ‘Wired’ Community (Parry Sound in Black & White)