Council questions near five-year delay for open items

An investigation by administrators into open action items has revealed 36 requests that are still unfulfilled, but it was two particular requests that had city council talking on Monday.

Of those 36 open items, 23 were sent to administration last year, while seven requests were made in 2017, three in 2016, one in 2015 and two in 2014.

For several city councillors, having open action items from five years ago was unacceptable. 

“We’re still putting this off five years afterwards. That’s a concern. A big concern,” said Ward 6 Coun. Blake Edwards, who first raised the issue during the meeting. “I don’t know who can respond to that one, but to me we shouldn’t be dealing with issues that are from past councils.”

The first item stems from June 23, 2014. It’s a request that administrators investigate and forward a report about crime-free multi-housing. According to administration, the item is currently under review by the new Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners, and new Police Chief Jonathan Bergen. It’s expected to come back before council by June 30, 2019.

The other, dated motion, made on Nov. 24, 2014, called for moving management of the Diefenbaker Trust Fund to the Financial Services Department. Administration is not expected to have a report back to council until the end of May. No reason for the delay was listed in Monday’s council package, which didn’t sit well with some on council.

“This is the one that was brought forward by a former councillor, remember,” Ward 4 Coun. Don Cody said during the meeting. “That’s a little bit long to wait for an answer. We’re now in 2019. It’s the Diefenbaker Trust Fund, and I can’t figure out what should take so long in figuring out what we should do with the fund?”

Cody added that there may be a good reason for the delay, but council needed to hear it.

The project is one of 10 open items in the Community Services Department, and director Jody Boulet said progress was being made.

“Certainly this is taking it to a point that is beyond what anybody would find acceptable,” Boulet explained. “However, in working with the current Director of Financial Services, I’ve got a good feeling that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what this need to look like moving forward.”

Boulet said they’ve already had preliminary meetings with the Prince Albert Community Foundation, who currently have an agreement with the city to manage the fund. He anticipates a solution in the next couple of months.

Some city councillors were sympathetic to administration’s workload. Ward 8 Coun. Ted Zurakowski said he thought administration was doing the best they could do, but was worried they were taking up time addressing issues that past city employees should have dealt with.

“I think currently, the senior administration that we have now is on good faith doing the work that we’re asking them to do, as well as the work of the corporation,” Zurakowski said. “The issue is that hasn’t always been the case, and we’ve seen this in some of the inquiries.”

Typically, administration is given 60 days to respond to an open action item once council has passed a motion. Administration has recommended that the period be extended to 90 days.

The lone open action item from 2015 requests that the Department of Corporate Services draft an amended out of scope sick usage policy. The three open items from 2016 include a request to hold funds generated from the annual Destination Marketing Levy in a separate bank account, a request for a report to re-evaluate the Geographic Information System following the supervisor’s two year term, and a request for a report by the end of June 2016 on possible improvements to the implementation of the next Customer Service Audit.