It was Lunch With the Mayor on Friday, as the Moose Jaw Chamber of Commerce hosted a new event at Grant Hall.
Community business people came out to hear Mayor Frazier Tolmie speak to the city budget over the lunch hour and in turn, the groups was given the opportunity to ask questions.
Throughout his address, Tolmie made points addressing long term vision, empowering the governance of city council, identifying inefficiencies, and the need to create more confident and proficient systems going forward, all in the name of what he called "better customer service".
Some details of the address included:
- City Hall modernization, as departments like payroll still use recipe-card, paper systems. The city is looking toward programs and technology that would streamline paper records, as well as to update communications between departments for increased efficiency.
- Identifying and addressing redundancies such as alley garbage pick-ups and outdated processes at City Hall.
- Tax increase: The Mayor broke down the 6.24% increase, reiterating that a portion of this year's increased taxation is an investment, for services that will provide longer term benefits and address more efficient processes (like the water main upgrades).
All in all, Tolmie said that during the election people wanted change and that after years of the lack in effective communications between city departments and proactive maintenance of systems like water lines, "There has to be a realistic expectation. For the number of years of neglect that we have been through, it's going to take us a bit of time to make this change but these changes will be good."
He added, "They (the changes) will have a lasting impact on the citizens of Moose Jaw. Not only on the amount of taxes they (residents) are paying, but also in the services that we are providing."
The group listened intently, and there were a few comments and questions asked at the end. Predominantly, members wanted to know about the new council's accountability and transparency citing the new changes to the schedule of meetings from weekly, to once a month. In response, both City Manager Matt Nobel and Mayor Tolmie spoke to the expectation that although it might appear to be less time invested by council and executives, the time between meetings would allow the public attendees to be more intentional about raising their concerns in an effort to "steady the wheel, instead of pressing the panic button", as Tolmie explained.
Another expectation of the new schedule is to remove impulse and influence, and allow time to process, allow discussions, seek professional opinions as needed, and learn more about issues raised in the meetings.