Chatham-Kent’s council is moving ahead with a request for proposal to have an independent third-party conduct a municipal service review.
The affirmation of the already approved plan comes after council defeated a motion brought forward by Chatham Coun. Michael Bondy requesting that Grant Thornton, a Toronto-based company, conduct the audit and analysis.
Bondy said the firm was recommended by a number of the business leaders that were part of the COVID task force this past summer and would eliminate the “red tape” of a request for proposal.
“Without an RFP they would be following their own guidelines and not parameters that are set up by staff,” he said. “So there would be no barriers. We would be allowing the firm to make decisions as to where they should be looking, where to not look for efficiencies, staffing levels, etc., rather than being constrained by the direction.”
At the beginning of the month, council approved a service review, but Bondy raised concerns regarding municipal staff finding potential cuts among their colleagues, citing a similar service review in 2013 where council rejected most of the recommendations made.
Gord Quinton, chief financial officer, said staff were in agreement over the third-party review, but it would be dangerous to forgo the request for proposal process, which was already on the way. Government grants needed to fund the review stipulate that the municipality must undergo a competitive process.
Fourteen companies have already submitted bids, he added. The RFP closes on March 31 with a report coming to council on April 28. There were also concerns that without a competitive process, the municipality would over pay for the review.
Don Shropshire, chief administrative officer, added that the motion could damage Chatham-Kent’s relationship with the vendors who “may not want to choose to bid in the future because it looks like a wasted effort.”