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Core services, efficiency reviews explored by Abbotsford

Now that city council has completed the 2012 budget, staff is turning its focus to a request for core services and efficiency reviews. It is estimated the process could save the city as much as $2 million per year.

First suggested in January by Coun. Henry Braun, a core services review examines all aspects of city services.

Pat Soanes, the city’s general manager of finance and corporate services, told council it needs to ask some key questions including what the vision for the community is and if the services provided support that vision.

“Achieving fiscal sustainability is not just about cutting costs. It also needs to look at what services can and should be sustained.”

Toronto recently performed a similar review, costing $350,000.

Along with a core services review, Soanes said a service efficiency review could also be performed. That is a detailed examination of specific services – for example parks recreation and culture or engineering – to look for cost savings. It is estimated each efficiency review would cost about $50,000.

Braun stated, “If we spend half a million dollars and we save two or three million dollars every year, that is well worth the investment.”

He said the city has to deliver services differently otherwise it is “going to end up in a worse position” than it is in now.

Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman agreed with Braun, and said both core services and efficiency studies, performed by an outside party, are needed.

“It’s going to give us a clear transparent view as to what’s going on. There’s been a call for that, for transparency,” he said.

Coun. Simon Gibson had concerns about spending money on such an initiative, calling it “extravagant,” and said much of the studies could be done internally.

City manager Frank Pizzuto said staff will prepare the RFPs for the core service and efficiency reviews, which will focus on the parks and recreation department, engineering and the Abbotsford Police Department.

Staff will report to council in a month.

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