A chat with the Mayor-Elect

Service review number on list of things to do, McCormick says

Kimberley’s Mayor-Elect Don McCormick is ready to get work at City Hall, though he won’t formally be sworn in until December 8. And he is adamant that he will follow through on promises made.

“What I heard the majority of tax payers saying during the campaign is that they are concerned about the size of the tax bills they are getting relative to the value they feel they are getting.

“What am I getting for the money spent? It all relates back to the size of the pie. We don’t have a spending problem per se. We have a revenue issue. If there is no more revenue, it puts pressure on the tax base.

“Prudent spending has to do with what we do with what’s available. And a service review is the core of that.”

One of McCormick’s promises was a full service review, which is essentially a look at everything the city does, every service provided, every penny spent.

“My expectation is that a service review will help us find ways to more effectively spend the money we have. And it needs to independent and public.

“It’s a variation of a zero based budget. Assume nothing. My expectation is we will find ways to more effectively spend the money.”

However, he says that at no point in his campaign did he mention the word cut.

“One of the things I want to do is immediately meet with various staff groups and answer their specific questions.”

Another thing the service review would look at is non-profits.

“The whole funding issue for non-profits is not the easiest thing,” McCormick said. “Money is scarce. I believe the role of the city is facilitating to ensure the success of non-profits but we can’t bankroll them.

“The expectation that when someone needs money, go to the City, is not valid.”

McCormick says that if the review begins immediately it could have an impact on next year’s budget, at least the capital portion which is done the latest.

“If not, it will help marshal our priorities as we move forward.

“I didn’t hear people say my taxes need to go down. They are concerned about the rate of increase.”

Asked if he agreed with Coun. Kent Goodwin on shifting part of the flat tax to the mill rate, he said he does in principal.

“But currently, we’d be doing that by shifting the tax burden within the existing tax base. I would rather eliminate it as we grow the tax base. The mill rate is already the highest in the region and that would increase it. In principal it’s a good thing, but it’s a timing thing.”

McCormick says he is aware that there were a lot of rumours floating around during the campaign — that’s why he wants to meet with staff as soon as possible.

“And anyone else — just ask me. I also want to sit with each councillor and get their top priority. There were voted in after stating what they stood for and I want to capture that so they feel their priorities are given a fair shake.”

He also wants to begin a dialogue with regional leaders.

“There have been some changes and regional partners are critical for economic development.”

And economic development will be top of mind, he said.

“It is top of mind in every community. We need to be focused. There is a fair amount of competition. We have to be on our best game.

“Infrastructure renewal needs to happen and we need new money to do it. That’s our number one focus.”

McCormick also says that while it wasn’t a specific campaign issue, there is a perception about communication and access at city hall that needs to be addressed.

“It’s not just greatly improving communication coming out but also ways of taking city hall to the community. Is there any reason why we couldn’t conduct a council meeting at a seniors’ home? Or Selkirk or McKim?

“Maybe there are other creative things we could do. I want to work on doing that.”

Finally he says he is building a so-called list of things.

“It will be a statement of everything I said I would do, with tick boxes.  I will have it on my wall so I and everyone else can see and keep a running track of accomplishments. We can’t lose sight of our goals.

“But I want to temper all of this with the fact that there is the regular business of the city that goes on and can’t be interrupted. I am acutely aware of that.”