HALIBURTON, ON – It looks like the county might look into reviewing how the government is structured.

During the county council meeting earlier this week, the councillors started an at length discussion about the shared services between the lower-tiered governments and the county.

Back in May, council directed Haliburton County CAO and his counterparts in Lorrie Blanchard, Tamara Wilbee, Angie Bird and Shannon Hunter to prepare a report detailing “an inventory of existing collaborations, an inventory of major equipment, and to develop a list of potential new collaborations that would result in increased efficiency or cost savings.”

In the report it said that it is hard to quantify the amount of money saved by collaborating, the combined tax rate is in the bottom eight of more than 100 municipalities in Eastern Ontario.

Though the report already detailed pages of things that the governments work together on, the question came up of where to go from here, do they issue a Request for Proposal to look deeper at ways of creating efficiency? do they direct staff to conduct a governance review?

The collective thought was a middle grounds of sorts, that staff prepare a follow up to this report and outline options of where to go from here.

While the councillors discussed at length which was the best path forward, the topic of amalgamation came up, and Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt emphasized that the conversation of a governance review can’t just be outright facts, she went on to explain the conversation needs to touch on the gains and losses that come from reshaping government.

Referring to the idea of amalgamating the governments, County Warden Liz Danielson pointed out there is a public misconception that money would be saved, and she did not believe that to be the case. The Algonquin Highlands Deputy Mayor echoed her colleague’s sentiment, saying there is a bigger discussion to be had.

Minden Hills Mayor Brent Devolin, admittedly being a contrarian, says he sees there are two structural issues with the current governance model. Those issues being the labour market and asset management.

The longtime mayor believes that continuing the status quo will lead to hitting a metaphorical wall on those issues in less than five years.

Devolin says that he doesn’t see them getting over that wall without tinkering or changing the way things are done.

Similar to the Warden, Moffatt reiterated there is a lot of misinformation about amalgamation saying that yes there would one CAO and one Fire Chief, but there would be more jobs created to fill in underneath those senior positions.

Another bit of misinformation pointed out by Warden Danielson was the idea that reducing the number of politicians would create savings, but that could lead to fewer politicians simply getting paid more.

After a long talk about where to go from here, the councillors agreed that a follow-up report should be created and outline the options to create more efficiency including a governance review.