The Town is poised to develop its economy and attract new residents. This will only happen if Town Hall can deliver better, more responsive services that meet growing needs and attract younger people and businesses needed to sustain long-term growth in Midland.
We are not just talking about cost cutting and efficiencies. We need to invest time, effort and savings from improved practices to develop a high-performance organization at Town Hall including staff and Council; an organization that provides prompt, competent, customer friendly service; a reinvented Town Hall.
Public Engagement for a Shared Vision
A comprehensive Service Delivery Review was conducted by staff and Council with public input in 2017. It identified several problems with our services and recommendations for reinventing Town Hall to provide excellent service. It begins with much broader public engagement to find out what residents want now, and a shared vision of what we need to respond to changing needs in the future. As Mayor I will implement our Public Engagement Strategy, recently passed by Council, to ensure that Council and staff engage residents of all ages in community decisions, that their concerns are heard and thoroughly considered.
During the campaign I heard many complaints that the Town’s response is very slow and cumbersome to requests for services, e.g., repair of burnt out streetlights can take months. Complaints are currently handled by a personal contact, paper, emails, telephone calls, or the website but are not tracked systematically. This uses too much staff time and results in dissatisfied residents and frustrated staff members. Many of our processes, such as applications for permits and approvals for development plans are complicated and viewed as unnecessary red tape. This discourages investment and improvement to our Town and gets in the way of economic development.
To fix this, I will work with staff to develop a Citizen Complaint Management and Tracking System that will guarantee: levels of service, e.g. 1 business day response time, prioritization of work and online tracking and reporting of completion.
We will speed up and streamline planning processes by integrating technologies and redeveloping our website to reduce duplication and handle applications online. You will also be able to pay taxes and other fees online if you wish.
During the campaign I heard repeatedly that when you call or go to Town Hall it is almost impossible to reach someone who can help you. I will insist that we streamline the telephone system so that residents can immediately reach a live person who can adequately serve them. If you come to Town Hall, there will be one-stop shopping counter service to handle your concerns and kiosks for payment of taxes, etc.
Every citizen should have a role in building our community. I want all residents to know about and have a voice in what is going on at Town Hall. We will develop Public Engagement and Communications strategies to improve internal and external communications between Council, staff and the public. In addition to the revamped website where you can actually find useful information easily, I will encourage and participate in the use of online weekly newsletters, website blogs and social media to listen to and lead public opinion. I will institute a series of monthly Coffee with the Mayor sessions to complement open houses, call-in shows and online forums with Council designed to meet informally with concerned citizens.
Integrated Planning and Organization for the Long Term
The Service Delivery Review pointed out that at Town Hall, there is no integrated approach to planning. We need to reinvent Town Hall to focus on customer friendly, integrated service delivery to customers, not reporting lines and departmental silos. We need to manage and update our facilities and technologies, so staff have the right tools to deliver excellent, cost-effective service.
To accomplish this reinvention of Town Hall, as mayor I will support:
- An organizational review focused on greater operational integration, customer-focused service delivery and improved productivity
- An integrated planning and budget process based on long-term needs
- A long-term Asset Management Plan to include not just structures such as buildings, roads, or sewers, but also broadband networks and integrated enabling technologies
- Appropriate investment in staff training and enabling technologies so staff can work smarter and accomplish more at lower cost
Our Town Hall
I want Town Hall and its virtual extension to be a place where you, the citizens feel welcome, informed and satisfied with service. A place where our staff feel valued, supported and competent to provide high value services for the Town. I will do all that I can over the next four years to make this happen.
Midland Service Delivery Review Report 2018
News article in the Mirror 2018-09-03
Midland Strategic Planning Priorities 2016
Midland Asset Management Plan