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Much anticipated (dreaded) shared-services review out by end of month

September 18th, 2009 · 11 Comments

Rumours in the halls at 12th and Cambie say the city’s massive, Penny Ballem-initiated shared-services review is done, being reviewed by CMT (corporate management team to outsiders), and will be presented to the boards of various affiliated institutions, unions and managers around Sept. 28/29. That’s the result of several months work undertaken by a group of about 30 managers and staffers at city hall.

There is, of course, no small degree of apprehension about what will happen with this review, which I have heard is meant to try to squeeze $50-60 million out of the city’s billion-dollar budget in time for said 2010 budget to be passed by Dec. 1. For more details on some of the efficiencies that might be achieved, I’ll just refer you to Allen Garr’s column in the Courier today, where, clearly hearing the same things I am, he details a few cost-savings that are being anticipated by eliminating the duplication that goes on between parks and the city when it comes to paving, garbage pick-up, communications, etc.

That’s all in aid of trying to get the city’s tax increase for next year down to some incredibly low figure, I’m told.

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  • Sounds like something more governments should be looking at.

  • anon

    over here at the park board we are awaiting our flu kits from the city manager’s office. expecting a sizable shipment of body bags…

  • coldwater

    Duplication of services is not necessarily a bad thing. If a smaller operation can get things done faster and cheaper than a larger organization, one would think de-centralization would make sense. lets see what they have in mind before make up our minds.

  • Buck

    Its about time the city had to play the same game as the health authorities and ministries. Look at the amalgamation happening among the lower mainland health authories in order to use tax dollars more efficiently. The province should mandate even greater shared services among lowermainland municipalities.

  • Michael Phillips

    “That’s all in aid of trying to get the city’s tax increase for next year down to some incredibly low figure, I’m told.”

    Vision has no mandate for an “incredibly low” tax increase. We have a destitution crisis (homelessness, addiction, mental health) in the DTES, and a tenancy housing crisis. We don’t need any sizable portion of $50-60 million dollars of savings going into subsidizing an incredibly low tax increase, we need that money to go into initiating realistic housing and drug treatment solutions.

    I hope they’re in the “brainstorming” phase of working this one out. It might be strategic to undercut the NPA in this way, but it’s not what’s necessary right now and it’s not their mandate.

  • Blaffergassted

    How incredibly low will they go?

  • Your budget cutting struggle in Vancouver is very much the same here in the UK. We have a national programme called “Total Place” in which all the resources from central and local government going into an area are being compared for duplication of effort. Then cuts will come as a result. Change will be difficult because of the lack of trust between agencies on the ground. They won’t want to give up territory or budgets easily. I’m sure there is none of that in Vancouver!

  • spartikus

    What Michael Phillips said.

  • real_urbanist

    One thing the City needs to do as a first step is to get property assessments (and hence taxes) in check. In any given block you can see a huge discrepency in the assessed value of homes that are virtual identical. I’m not talking about homes that have recently undergone a permitted renovation (like mine where the subsequent assessment jumped 400%) but homes that time (assessment) forgot.

    Homes on my block are valued at $12K, $17K, even $30K which is grossly undervalue. If the city put some effort into reevaluating ALL properties, I have no doubt that a tremendous amount of revenue could be claimed without having to even begin looking internally.

    Would this end up with some people paying a lot more property tax? For sure, maybe even a lot more people, but it would begin to bring in line the crazy differences in comparable properties and balance something that has gone unchecked for far too long.

  • Mary

    the City has no control over property assessments. That is the bailiwick of the BC Assessment Authority. And the Assessment Authority will tell us that they don’t control the value; that is done by the market. If people see an unjustifiable discrepancy on their block in home values, they should appeal their assessment. Or quit griping.

  • real_urbanist

    I’m sorry but there is absolutely no way “the market” sets a house at $12K. What I guess I meant is that through the right communication lines, the city should suggest strongly to the AA that a reassessment of ALL properties in vancouver is necessary. Yes, the city does not set the assessments, but our taxes is directly tied to those assessments.

    Merely ‘griping’ about 1 block in the city will do nothing – a far more comprehensive approach is needed, and long overdue.

    My grievence is not with my value – i renovated with permits, and my assessment is fair to the value of my home. It is not fair, however, to a majority of people on my block. And furthermore, there is a tremendous amount of potential revenue that is just sitting there….