Council agrees to spend $10K on 'community social development specialist'
At this week’s council meeting, City staff updated council on the five year financial plan for 2014-2018. They requested permission to send out Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for an experienced community social development specialist who would provide a Social Planning Development Plan for the City of Rossland, and asked that council approve an expenditure increase from $5,000 to $10,000, in order to secure the person with the right skill set.
The five year plan looks to “facilitate the need for improved Public Consultation and to address strategies to address the challenges that the City faces.” According to the proposal, the planning process will include a long term Asset Management Investment Plan complete with a review of service levels and a long term revenue plan. Council also indicated a need for social planning that addresses community support and sustainability.
CAO/CFO Cecille Arnott said, “The planning process will take three or four months of a lot of hard work, and will require a lot of council input, especially at the onset. Unfortunately, it is not possible for everyone on council to be present until October 1st,” (Councillors Cary Fisher, Kathy Wallace and Jill Spearn were not present at this week’s meeting).
Arnott went on to say that to keep the project on schedule, there is a lot of legwork that can be done by staff behind the scenes prior to involving council.
“In order to get the plan adopted by the end of December, we’re going to have to be aggressive in October and November to go to the public, for council to debate, analyze and dissect,” Arnott said.
The Community Support aspect of the plan requires the City to hire a contractor with experience in social planning. The sooner that happens, the sooner they can be brought up to speed and get to work. The budget to hire the social planning contractor was originally $10,000, but that figure was cut in half when it was thought that someone a councillor knew could do it for $5,000, which is no longer the case.
Councillor Jody Blomme was surprised that it could cost that much. “I’m disappointed that it would potentially be that expensive. However, this is something that I feel is broken right now, and if by fixing it we would save more than the extra $5,000, and I feel more than certain that we would, then it’s worth it,” she said.
Mayor Greg Granstrom said, “I think this is important, because we’ve had it on our radar for a couple of years now, and we need someone to pull it all together. We do have some issues, and this could be money well invested.”
Councillor Kathy Moore praised the overall plan, but had some issues with the RFP, as written. “I don’t think the RFP gets at what we were trying to solve. This RFP seems to be geared towards a community facing traditional social issues like poverty and unemployment,” she said. “When we talked about this, we talked about standardizing our policies, and how we fund community groups.”
Arnott replied, “This RFP was sort of a ‘brain dump’, in order to get it on the agenda. I am more than open to including council suggestions, as long as I can get them in and the RFP sent off by Friday, because time is of the essence.”
“It’s not about demographics as much as it is about the specific groups that come to us, so I’m not sure that hiring an outside consultant is the answer,” said Moore. “Maybe it is, because we don’t have staff time.”
Arnott replied, “Its not only staff time, it’s the objectivity.”
Granstrom had the final word. “The goal is to ‘investigate’ the community groups and their value, and where council wants to go. That will be reflected in the RFP.”
The motion to increase the expenditure to $10,000 was carried.