In Brief: Not surprisngly the AIMS Municipal Performance Report for New Brunswick is being well-received in communities that were ranked well and dismissed in those at the bottom of the list. However, this story in the Kings County Record shows some municipalities understand the significance and import of the report. The mayor of Hampton explain he will use the report to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Report cards were out last week, and not just for students.

Municipalities across New Brunswick got the first of what will become an annual performance report from the Atlantic Institute of Market Studies (AIMS).

While 102 communities were ranked for efficiency, only 94 were ranked for effectiveness, as there was insufficient information to fully grade all of them.

Final grades were based on an average of each community’s absolute grade and their in-context grade in the efficiency and effectiveness categories.

Efficiency determines how the municipality spends tax dollars while effectiveness measures the extent to which a service or policy gets the intended results.

With a grade of B-, Hampton (population 4,004) ranked a respectable 18 out of 94 municipalities. It was among the highest ranking Kings County communities, second to Rothesay which ranked 16.

Overall, Hampton ranked in 55th place (out of 102 municipalities) for efficiency and 21st place (out of 94) for effectiveness.

Hampton Mayor Ken Chorley said he’s pleased to see Hampton ranked so high and 18th place “is not a bad place to be.”

“We are fairly efficient, quite frankly.”

He’d asked town clerk Megan O’Brien-Harrison to examine the data behind the AIMS stats to see exactly what Hampton has done to merit the favourable score and what areas can be worked on to improve the score next year.

He was surprised Hampton didn’t get a better grade than a D in efficiency for recreation and culture.

“We’ve got a rink, three ballfields and a brand new soccer field,” he said.

He expects that grade, and the town’s overall score, will improve next year. The AIMS data was from prior to the opening of the River Centre last year and there’s a recreation feasibility study being carried out this year.

Chorley also expressed surprise there was such a gap between ranks for Hampton and Sussex, as he considers Sussex an efficiently-run municipality.

Sussex (population 4,241) ranked considerably lower at 68 with a C grade.

Although it ranked in the top third (30th place) for effectiveness, it’s efficiency ranked toward the bottom at 84.

Norton (population 1,314) ranked in 88th place with a C grade. In an opposite scenario from Sussex, it ranked 23rd for efficiency but 90th for effectiveness.

In governance and finance, Norton ranked in seventh place for efficiency but last place for effectiveness, which, as Norton Mayor Wendy Alcorn commented, seemed an odd gap within the same outcome category. She intended to find out more about that from AIMS.

Of the financial factors affecting Norton’s overall rank, the amount of commercial property as a proportion of per capita property assessment was low at five per cent, but that’s because of the village’s rural surroundings, she said.

“Norton is a lot of farmland. We need the farms, they’re getting few and far between,” she said.

Norton scored high, in 15th place, for efficiency of economic development and even higher, in 10th place, for efficiency of recreation and culture endeavours.

Sussex Corner (population 1,413) was among the eight municipalities which did not receive a grade or final rank because it didn’t have or provide enough information to rate its effectiveness.

However, the village ranked 20th for overall efficiency, above Norton, Hampton and Sussex.

“Municipalities like to call themselves ‘special’ or different,” AIMS executive vice president Charles Cirtwill said in releasing the report April 8.

“They say you can’t compare them to others because they have different accounting practices, service demands or climate.”

He said taxpayers need to know how much money is collected, how much money is spent, what services are provided and whether those services are effectively and efficiently delivered.

There’s more to the report than each municipality’s final grade and rank, Cirtwell stressed.

Results should be considered within a wider context, including the whole report, other available information and a comparison of absolute performance versus performance adjusted for context.

The three highest-scoring communities assessed – Florenceville, Cambridge- Narrows and Port Elgin – each had a final grade of B and populations of less than 1,000 residents.