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Drummond Report Aligns with City’s Cost-Saving Efficiencies

February 16, 2012 – Mayor Keith Hobbs said the Drummond Report’s approach to restraint and rationalizing service delivery is in step with the City’s goals.

Hobbs discussed the report this week with City Manager Tim Commisso and Carol Busch, City Treasurer and General Manager Finance & Corporate Services. “The focus of the Drummond Report is about restraint and finding efficiencies,” Hobbs said. “It’s also about cost containment, which is what Council and Administration is examining with the Core Business Review and CITYLean. The Drummond Report suggests increased collaboration between the province and municipalities – that’s something the City is certainly willing to discuss further.”

The Drummond Report was commissioned by the province and prepared by economist Don Drummond. The Report suggests ways for the Ontario government to reform public services while finding savings for taxpayers. The Ontario government will decide how to move forward on Drummond’s suggestions and then the City of Thunder Bay and other municipalities will examine those actions. “We look forward to the Ontario budget, which will provide the first indication of the government’s direction,” Mayor Hobbs said.

The Report recommends continued restraint with wages and benefits. The City is interested in understanding more about Drummond’s proposal to voluntarily centralize bargaining with police and firefighters. The Report said that “larger municipalities, or some groups of them, will tend to bargain together, and, likewise, the smaller municipalities will bargain together but separate from the larger ones.”

Commisso said these potential changes to labour relations, including improvements to arbitration, could be beneficial to the City of Thunder Bay. “Centralized bargaining could allow for a quicker resolution when contracts expire and overall it could contain increasing costs,” he said.

Commisso and Busch don’t believe the Drummond Report will impact the City’s 2012 budget, currently under review by Council, although this is to be confirmed. However, the Report suggests delaying the phased upload of social service costs and court security by two years and this recommendation is of particular concern to the City as well as the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association.

The Report also recommends setting uniform education tax rates. “The City of Thunder Bay’s taxpayers have historically benefitted from a reduction in education tax rates, but if this recommendation is approved it could impact taxpayers,” Busch said. The timing of the Report’s release allows City officials to speak with provincial ministers at the Ontario Good Roads Conference from February 26-29.
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Contact: Mayor Keith Hobbs, 625-3600