As the saying goes, it’s time to put up or shut up. Everyone loves to complain about the municipal services they receive and the taxes they pay. Invariably they pay more and get less than the next guy, and they know this based on what the next guy told them, or what they figure the next guy would tell them if they asked him.
AIMS has a better idea. We are inviting New Brunswickers to help us decide whether taxes in Dieppe are really higher than in Caraquet, Saint John, or Plaster Rock. This is your chance to actually help measure how well roads, sewers, and garbage collection are managed in your town.
AIMS today released an Interim Municipal Report Card for New Brunswick. This interim report card does not give ranks and grades for all 102 municipalities in the province. However, it does give all New Brunswickers one-stop access to a range of information about where they live and about how the “other half lives”.
The research for the project was made possible, in part, through the support of the New Brunswick Chambers of Commerce (NBCC). The “interim” label means that this is the latest step on the road to the final Municipal Report Card to be issued later in 2008.
This “interim” Report Card, called Having Your Say invites public feedback on how the data should be combined to grade municipal performance overall. It also marks the next step in AIMS’ efforts to publicize its standing invitation to all interested parties to suggest other measures and other data sources.
As AIMS Executive Vice President Charles Cirtwill puts it, “if you think there is something more important to count when judging municipalities, by all means, let us know.”
“However, we require three conditions to be met first: the information has to be relevant to all municipalities, not just yours; it has to be quantifiable, no guesses allowed; and it has to exist – a measure that would be nice to have, until it actually is collected is just that, nice to have.” Cirtwill adds that AIMS is happy to pass along to the province and the municipalities suggestions for better measures.
Speaking of nice to have, AIMS itself has identified a series of measures (available in other provinces and jurisdictions) that are not currently available in New Brunswick. Most of these deal with what AIMS labels “effectiveness” measures as opposed to “efficiency” measures.
Cirtwill explains, “efficiency gets at how much it costs you per capita, per police officer or per kilometre to supply certain services. Effectiveness speaks to how good that service is. If you spend more money per capita than any other municipal unit, yet you have more water main breaks, or slower police response times, or less frequent garbage pick-up, that questions your effectiveness.”
A francophone version of this Interim Municipal Report Card will be available in the coming weeks. The final Municipal Report Card will be issued simultaneously in French and English.
Local Service Districts and the two rural municipalities are not covered by this Interim Municipal Report Card and will not be included in the final Municipal Report Card. An analysis of the services available in LSDs and rural municipalities is ongoing and a final determination about whether these services can or will be compared is yet to be made.