Efficiency study gives Sundridge staff top marks

·3 min read

Sundridge Mayor Lyle Hall says it will take more than a year to implement the numerous recommendations in a study detailing how the village can improve efficiencies and build staff capacity.

The study, carried out by Toronto-based consulting firm Optimus SBR, looked at how the municipality currently delivers services.

Optimus senior associate Michael Bugeja took Sundridge council through the study's findings, which included sharing services with surrounding municipalities, expanding some services and discontinuing others.

The study was carried out in 2020, and one thing Bugeja says Optimus identified is that Sundridge municipal staff is cohesive, works very well together and has the trust and respect of council.

Optimus found there are areas that could be automated, which would free up staff to carry out other jobs. It also found job descriptions had become outdated.

Bugeja suggested the municipality create a standardized process so staff has a “clear view of their responsibilities.”

Bugeja called Sundridge a forward-thinking municipality which has been modernizing to improve services.

That was evident with the launch in mid-December of a redesigned website, which is easy to navigate and loaded with information about the municipality and its services.

Bugeja acknowledged that Sundridge has a lean municipal staff and suggested using technology to replace some work being done manually by employees.

Doing this, he said, will allow employees to focus on “value-added activities.”

The Optimus study found that performance metrics were non-existent, and Bugeja told the council it “means you can't celebrate your successes.”

Optimus also identified succession planning as an area that needs focus.

“We're going to want more information on how to handle this,” Mayor Lyle Hall admitted.

“We're so small that when someone says assign someone to look into succession planning, we don't have the staff power to be able to do that. We'll need Optimus to give us stronger guidelines on the entire process.”

Hall admitted some employees have been around for quite a while and that they're taken for granted.

“But we know at some point people are going to retire, so you better have a skilled individual right behind them ready to roll,” he said.

Hall said Sundridge is fortunate to have great municipal staff at every level and “every person we have is doing an awesome job.”

At one time, the municipality had a difficult time hanging on to its employees, “but we've since settled in and now have some local people who are doing an incredible job,” he said.

Sundridge had initiated some changes before the service delivery study by Optimus.

In addition to the redesigned website, the village has been developing an official plan and, over the past year, staff have been modernizing the village's asset management plan.

As for the Optimus study, it was paid for by a grant from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing under its Municipal Modernization Program.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget