Saturday, 7 October 2017

10 reasons why the LSD model for local services delivery no longer represents the best interest of tax payers.

Note:  The following abbreviations are used in this post - 

LSD - Local Service District
AC - Advisory Committee
LSM - Local Services Manager (who manages local services delivery in LSDs)
MLA - Member of the Legislative Assembly

1.  Members of a LSD Advisory Committee (AC) have no financial or administrative authority.  They are volunteers who serve for four year terms.  If asked to do so AC members provide advice to the Local Services Manager ( LSM) who is an employee of the Department of Environment and Local Government, or to the Minister.  They do not have to hold regular meetings.  They do not have to keep any records of meetings.  They are not provided with residents’ contact information and they have no official process for contacting residents directly.  ACs are not recreation councils.  ACs are not by-law enforcement officers.  ACs do not manage LSD assets like fire halls or community parks.

2.  LSD AC members are not always elected.  An election only takes place if more than 5 people offer to serve.  Otherwise, the people who show up to volunteer, when the LSM announces an election (the announcement is sent out via bulk mail through Canada Post), are declared as the AC.  This means that the AC can be comprised of 5 people from one neighbourhood in the LSD.   Or there might not be any AC if no one shows up for the election.  Many LSDs have no AC.

3.  If a LSD Advisory Committee member quits, he or she is not replaced until the next four year term begins.  If the number of AC members falls below 3, the LSM dissolves the AC.  The LSM decides when another AC election happens.  It has taken up to 16 months for an AC election to be called by the LSM after he dissolved a previous AC. 

4.  The AC meets with the LSM once a year so that the LSM can show the AC members the LSD budget.  The LSD budget is prepared by the LSM.  He or she also sets the LSD tax rate.  There have been times when AC members are only shown the budget at the start of that budget review meeting.  There is no time for the AC members to discuss the budget amongst themselves before the meeting with the LSM.   

5.  There have been occasions when members of a AC have been told that they would have to file a Right to Information request in order to have questions answered about their LSD budget. 

6.  ACs have no link with MLAs.  It is quite often the case that the riding boundaries for a MLA do not align with the boundaries of a LSD.  MLAs are responsible for governance issues at the provincial level.  ACs are involved with service delivery at the local level.  ACs and MLAs do not usually communicate with each other.

7.  LSDs are not a local government.  They are just a geographic area in which all residents share the cost for the delivery of local services (fire protection, solid waste management, dog control, rural planning, recreation, policing, administration, emergency measures).  No matter how big or small a LSD is, all residents share the cost of these services.

8.  LSDs have many different communities in them and each of those communities has its own identity.  Being in the same LSD does not imply that residents have the same community values and interests.  In fact, there is often competition between communities in the same LSD, especially when it comes to spending tax dollars on recreation services.

9.  The tax rate for a LSD depends on the number of tax payers living there and on the tax base.  The tax base is the total value of all of the property or assets (infrastructure, businesses, developments) in the area on which tax can be charged.  Therefore, the lower the population and the smaller the tax base, the higher the cost of service delivery to LSD residents. 

10.  The administration and management of local service delivery is the job of the LSM.  AC members are not involved in tendering, granting of contracts, renewing contracts.  There is no local voice in these matters.  AC members have little to no ability to have a say over the efficient, cost effective spending of tax dollars in a LSD.

Debby Peck
Island View

No comments: