Committee promoting for-profit corporations

A partnership of communities within Mountain View County is looking to the corporate world for strategies on managing seniors housing and waste management.

A partnership of communities within Mountain View County is looking to the corporate world for strategies on managing seniors housing and waste management.

The Municipal Area Partnership Committee, which represents six municipalities, is recommending that regional services commissions be converted into for-profit corporations. Under the plan, each municipality would appoint a representative from the community to manage the corporation.

Under the current system, council members are appointed to the waste management and seniors housing commissions.

Didsbury Mayor Brian Wittal said the advantages of the corporation approach is it allows communities to appoint representatives with a specific expertise to act on their behalf while municipalities still remain in overall control as shareholders.

“Sometimes by being able to appoint others from outside, not elected officials, you might be able to find individuals with specific skills that you might want to sit on that board to help run the corporation and may help run it a little better,” said Wittal, who serves as chairman of the partnership that includes the county, Carstairs, Cremona, Didsbury, Olds and Sundre.

“We feel it gives us the opportunity to hopefully tap into some better resources that are available.”

Another issue the partnership is trying to address is the risk of commissions running up deficits and then requisitioning member municipalities for additional funding.

“Under corporation guidelines they would not be able to come back to the municipalities and automatically requisition for any shortfall that they have.

“I know for some that has been a bit of a concern long-standing because it’s hard to budget from a municipal perspective if you’re not sure what you may get hit with for a requisition from either of these commissions at the end of the year.”

The corporations would be responsible for running the seniors lodges and manors within the county, as well as the landfills, transfer stations and garbage collection services.

Wittal does not expect the corporation model would prove any more expensive. Like their municipal counterparts before them, appointees would get a per diem for attending meetings.

While municipalities see the corporation model as a way to exert stricter control over financial decisions, the goal is not to bring in a bunch of hard-nosed business people to trim costs.

Wittal said from Didsbury’s perspective there is strong support for seniors housing and that it remains affordable. The corporation would be expected to manage costs and services to be in line with other facilities around the province.

The partnership hopes to bring the idea forward at an all-council meeting sometime within the next month.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com