Saturday, May 24, 2014

Solution 4: Cost Sharing

Another way to address the imbalance in who pays for services is to have cost-sharing agreements in place between municipalities.

The City has a number of such agreements in place.  For example, the costs of helping to  run the Library, the Museum, the South Peace Regional Archives, and many non-profit agencies are shared among neighbouring municipalities. 

There's a lot more that could be done though.

One area in which we are working is recreation.  The City and County have a joint recreation board which looks at recreation planning in the region, but has also began to look at recreation costs in the region.  The last Councils looked at what each municipality contributes towards recreation in the region and found the following:

$ spent per capita on recreational capital projects (2002-2013)
$ spent per capita on recreation - operational (2013)
City of GP
County of GP

 To the County's credit, they had recognized that they should be contributing more to the region's recreational costs and gave $5 million to the Beaverlodge pool and $0.25 million to the Eastlink Centre as well as building the Sportsplex.  There still is quite the gap that exists though, especially in regards to yearly operational spending.

The County used to provide $200,000/year to the City to help pay for the Leisure Centre.  This was suspended when the Eastlink Centre was built.  We are going to be asking the County if they would commit to operational dollars again.  This would be a good place to help address the gap, especially given the location of the two County schools who will directly benefit from the facility.

Cost sharing is also a way to reduce inefficiencies.  For example, sharing the cost of one fire department is much more efficient than having multiple.

Cost sharing can be a good option to help address some of the imbalances we have.  I think it's an alright solution for now, in the absence of any meaningful reform on revenue.  However, cost sharing can be a fickle measure as funding can be withdrawn once agreements come to an end.  They really depend on the Council of the day.  And it can be quite the tedious process identifying where all the gaps lie.

I don't really see cost sharing as a needed solution though.  As I pointed out in Problem 1, all municipalities in the area are roughly paying their share of regional services.  While the City pays more in recreation, the County pays more in transportation.  The greatest imbalance lies on the revenue side, to which I will now turn...

Next post ----> Solution 5: Fair Share Agreement

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