Checks and balances were clearly on the mind of town councillor Alex Reed at the Jan. 8 town council meeting and he's asking for administrative feedback on three particular topics.
Reed asked a series of financial questions during the "administrative inquiries" item on the agenda, something seldom used or at least vocalized, and was told he needs to put the questions in writing.
Reed believes the town should be seeking financial support from the province for what he views as an offloading of costs related to the operation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
In what's now a written submission he asks, "What is the town’s strategy to seek recourse from the province’s financial offloading of these services on to the town or what are we going to do about realigning these services and how can I help?"
He believes increased pressure has been placed on EMS putting Cochrane's operation at risk and the town responded by hiring four additional firefighters at a cost of over $500,000, placing the burden on local ratepayers. In his preamble, he implies the province purposely downloaded the costs on to the town and the previous council did nothing about it.
"EMS workers are overworked and sometimes they are not available. So who picks up the slack? The fire department. So, the fire dept. rightfully came forward and said we need four more people. My point is, I think this is just an offloading from the province and we need to fight like hell to either get compensated for that to be realigned."
Reed also asks if quarterly checks and balances are in place to red flag organizations and agencies supported by the town who are not living within their means.
"For at least the last two years, the library has made and received exceptional large funding requests which suggestions to all those other like organizations and departments that if you can’t live within your means you simply ask and get increases from town council," stated his preamble to the question.
The question he poses to administration is, "What quarterly check and balances are in place so those town supported organizations and agencies who appear not to be able to live within their means are held responsible?"
It's not targeted specifically at the library, he says.
"Any organization that is not living within it's means should be held accountable."
Thirdly, he asked about methods of recruiting town staff.
In his preamble, he refers specifically to the hiring of a RancheHouse manager at a cost of $113,000 plus in an effort to revitalize the business model that saw losses of $122,000 reported for 2017.
"Given recent studies that suggest that hiring from within leads to mediocrity in organizations and what I understood the rationale for hiring to this position to be, what are the town’s hiring policies, practices, and procedures? Are they open, fair, and seriously give consideration to new blood, fresh ideas, and critical direct experience and skills?"
He believes strongly in those studies and applies it to the RancheHouse position.
"That should be a position that's not necessarily hired from within. We need someone with fresh ideas, coming and looking at it from a whole new perspective. I want assurances of what are the hiring policies, packages and procedures and for that position, in particular, I am hoping we are open to candidates from outside."
Fiscal management was one of the primary planks in his fall campaign and now in office he wants to take action.
"Morgan has been a champion of this the last four years. I've been in the wings fighting it a bit, and we both believe in fiscal responsible."