District of Sooke CAO Evan Parliament

Committee looks at spending and contracts

Sooke's Finance and Administration Committee reviewing district financial deals

The Finance and Administration Committee, (FAC) made up of elected and public members, met on May 7 at District of Sooke municipal chambers for their regular monthly meeting.

Discussion ensued on items in the areas of finance, engineering and corporate services.

Finance: David Gawley, acting director of finance, will be looking into changing the municipal insurance from a private carrier to the Municipal Insurance Assoc. which would give more coverage. New budgeting software is being looked at and the Development Cost Charges reporting was deemed satisfactory.

Engineering:

The road maintenance contract with Mainroad South Island Contracting was being looked at to ensure the district was getting what they pay for. Currently the contract is on a month-by-month basis. One issue is that the company uses the Kaltasin maintenance yard without compensation to the district.

“Mainroad uses our yard, let’s make sure we are getting a bang for our buck,” said Mayor Wendal Milne.

CAO Evan Parliament notified the committee that the yard would be looking for some new tenants by late summer. An expression of interest will be posted.

Corporate: Discussion ensued on convention centre bookings at the Prestige Hotel.

Maja Tait said there is talk of ever increasing costs for conference food. She stated there was a 42 per cent increase in cost from 2011 to 2012. Plus there is a 15 per cent service fee on top which needs to be examined, she said.

“If groups are bound to use hotel catering, it has to be reasonable. The conference room is usually comp’ed  anyway,” Tait said,

Staff is working on reviewing the associated costs and charges.

Evan Parliament stated that fees are imposed by the conference/food and beverage contractor, which is the Mix by Ric’s. He said the district has received complaints from some groups who just can’t afford it.

“We’re working with Prestige to review those fees. We’re monitoring that closely,” said Parliament.

There was some discussion on the possibility of initiating fees for use of the public boat launch, so as not to undercut other businesses which charge for launching.

Some of the members of the committee questioned whether it was stated, during the vote for the boat launch, that it would be free. The question also arose as to why the district was not charging the hotel a fee for use of the boat launch.

Parliament brought up the idea of a non-profit group managing the boat launch, and dispensing fuel on behalf of the hotel to raise funds.

A report will be brought back to the committee on options.

Staff will come back to the committee with a revised vehicle-use policy as the policy is silent on employees driving to and from work and those on call. The policy does state that district vehicles are not to be used for personal use. Only one employee has use listed as a taxable benefit.

Terms of reference will be compiled for a Core Service Review. The district has 30 full-time employees in five departments and the FAC wants to review efficiencies, duplication, out-sourcing and costs.