It’s not always what you save; sometimes it’s what you spend.
A good point in case was the recent Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference attended by the mayor, three council member and four senior municipal administrators.
It cost the Chatham-Kent approximately $5,000 in registration costs and even if rooms and other expenses double that cost, it will have proven to be a bargain.
A presentation by General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Thomas Kelly was a key factor in halting a provincial decision that would have cost the municipality 100 times that amount annually.
The change would have made the municipality responsible for environmental assessment on drainage issues, currently a provincial matter.
Since Chatham-Kent as we know it wouldn’t exist without drains, (more than 4,000 of them, in fact) we would have had to hire four employees just to keep up with the responsibility.
It would have also placed the municipality in conflicting legal roles of being forced to deal with deadline requirements under the Drainage Act that may have been at odds with those of the Environmental Assessment Act.
As anyone who’s dealt with government knows, getting something changed once it’s in place is far more difficult than preventing it in the first place.
Much has been made about the importance of “face time” with senior government officials but in this instance it made all the difference since earlier attempts to state the local case had been unsuccessful.
Having the opportunity to state C-K’s case and the ability to present it in a persuasive fashion made all the difference.
A healthy scepticism over all levels of government spending is necessary but also important is the realization that any organization must also know when it’s important to invest in its people.