Friday, January 18, 2008

Service or no service, but never competition for service

Controllers Tom Gosnell and Gina Barber are absolutely correct that a $2.7 million call centre for municipal services operating on a $1.7 annual budget — figures revised down from an earlier proposal to dampen criticism — does not reflect the priorities of Londoners already burdened by property taxes and worried about basic infrastructure. Despite Council's endorsement of the idea back in November, the influence of Gosnell and Barber may help oppose implementation of the centre, for this year at least, during upcoming budget talks.

If it were the merits of such a service at this time to Londoners that were the central consideration of politicians, we could perhaps understand a difficult debate. But it is the planning and methods of proposals like this that shine a light on the continuing inability of London's administration to deliver effective services at a reasonable cost. Chief Administrative Office Jeff Fielding, along with several councillors, refuse to even consider tendering bids to contract the proposed service to outside firms. The City's unions, naturally enough, share this position and "vow to fight" and such move. Fair enough… the unions are not expected to represent taxpayers, but only themselves. To taxpayers, however, there is absolutely no added value in having municipal employees delivering call centre service that can justify the enormous added expense of the pay and benefits of union contracts.


Jake said...

What worries me the most about this 311 business is that the deciding vote will likely be Mayor Anne Marie. Seven councilors and two BOC members are against it and Anne Marie has remained ambiguous towards how she will vote.

However, if you read her 'Welfare State of the City' speech, she is quoted as saying the following about 311:

"The 311 System is proven to increase accessibility to city services, create a seamless delivery of government operations and improve overall customer service. If approved, and phased in over several years, it would transform how we do business at City Hall."

That rather rosy outlook on 311 sounds like the Mayor is leaning towards voting in favour. So it seems that unless two of the remaining 9 councilors/BOC members change their minds, we're heading for a yes win on 311.

Anonymous said...

If 311 is proven to increase service levels, then let's do it!

Perhaps you could reproduce here the reports that are cited above that prove this.

It would be interesting to see the comparison between projected service levels (based on other 311 cities) and actual current service levels.

What is the current average wait time on hold? What is the current average call completion time? How many calls are currently handled per day? What is the current breakdown of calls processed over the course of the day? How many calls are recorded on the after hours answering machine on an average day? How about on a busy day? How many surveys of callers have been conducted? How many had an unfavourable view of the process (as opposed to the handling of their particular problem)?

I'm sure they have all this information, if they are considering spending millions on it.


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Gina would go against something that is a surefired thing to stick it to the taxpayer.

Have to give her kudos for that one.

Anonymous said...

It's weird when non-stop stereotyping doesn't hold a thimble-full of water.

Anonymous said...

Hey, London has only the 4th highest taxes in Canada. We need to be Number 1 at something.

I'm with eng, let's do this! And while we're at it, let's build that Performing Arts Centre!

Plus, I think our Mayor and City Council should give themselves a big, fat raise for all the hard work they do.

I just know we can be Number 1 in the tax race next year if we give it our best shot!

NIAC said...

Ms. Barber would rather put that 1.7 M (whatever, don't get me started on the difference between 'budget' and 'actual' when it comes to governmental shell games) into other projects. I mean, everyone and their brother ... or, of course, brother-in-law ... is able to abscond with city revenues if there's a stamp on the bottom of the paper.