York Region could save millions through efficiencies by consolidating several departments, according to a review by an outside firm.
The region hired Ernst and Young LLP to conduct a review, paid for with a provincial audit and accountability fund. Completed last October, the review identified efficiencies that could save the region $5.8 million to $8.6 million over five years by enfolding some department responsibilities.
“Planning for our growing communities means ensuring services evolve to meet the modern needs of our residents while also supporting the economic strength and social viability of our communities,” chair of the finance and administration committee Steve Pellegrini said in a Jan. 26 news release.
The review proposed that the region consolidate environmental services and transportation services into its public works department. It also recommends shifting information technology into corporate services. The review estimates these changes could help create a four to six per cent efficiency increase.
"The opportunity to transition York Region to its future state organizational structure and find the optimal outline of accountabilities and degree of centralization will ensure both financial and non-financial efficiencies are gained for York Region internally, and improve the citizen experience in the long run,” the review said.
The region also spotlighted a pair of reviews dating back to 2021 in consideration of the 2023 budget. One of them is for switching to an administrative monetary penalty system (AMPS), which would allow for fines that go to review officers for appeals instead of through the court system. The study from the firm MNP recommends employing this for regional bylaws and automated speed enforcement.
The review said that court systems face backlogs, and as the region adds more camera enforcement for speeding, AMPS would be a way to process those fines faster.
The system is currently employed by the Town of Newmarket for many of its bylaws.
The reviews were funded by a $7.3 million provincial audit and accountability fund, meant to help large, urban municipalities find efficiencies. The province granted $254,000 for the Ernst and Young review in 2022, while also getting $400,000 in 2021 for reviews of the AMPS system and YorTrax, the region's digital tool for tracking development applications.
“York Region’s strong culture of continuous improvement helps ensure the delivery of these high-quality programs and services meet the increasing and evolving needs of our more than 1.2 million residents,” York Region chairman and CEO Wayne Emmerson said in a news release.