We don’t always agree with Coun. Lee Atkinson on everything -- or with anybody else for that matter -- but you have to admire his zest for the job.
The veteran Prince Albert city councillor has always served as something of a gadfly around the council table. He’s never been shy about looking at issues from another angle, although his approach has seemed less at odds with the others around the table in this administration than the previous one.
So it was nice to hear his take on the recent budget process that the city has gone through.
It hasn’t changed much from last year, although the big change was a massive shuffle in the highest ranks of the city’s administrative ranks.
Atkinson wondered aloud if that alone should have made a difference in how the city approached its budget.
“It wasn’t really challenging the existing spending, it was just adding to the existing budget,” he said of this year’s budget process.
“For the most part, it’s sort of everything’s pretty much the same as it has always been.”
But Atkinson said he expected more in the wake of the recent staff departures.
“Ultimately, it was a better process, but I think we need to challenge the status quo, more, because there weren’t really any hard questions -- there weren’t dramatic changes.”
Mayor Greg Dionne was quick to note that Atkinson did consider this year’s budget process an improvement.
Dionne says he, too, is keen to challenge some long-held beliefs in the budgetary process.
“The workplace changes,” he said. “Better equipment comes out, so you might have a piece of equipment today that takes two or three people to operate, and the next piece will come and you only need one.”
There’s an entire school of thought in the business world called change management that deals with the constant evolution of ideas and practices around you.
Accepting the status quo isn’t good enough for anybody anymore, because the world is evolving so quickly these days.
Dionne recognized that fact in his comments and Atkinson has been suggested the same concept for a while.
Just because something worked last year doesn’t mean it’s the solution next year.
It demands a constant justification of practices to ensure that they are the ones best serving the organization.
Other members of council also spoke up around the table with thoughts about what can change.
For instance, Coun. Martin Ring mused about the city’s electronic billing system.
To be clear, we may not agree with every proposed change that they wish to make.
But we wholeheartedly agree with an enviroment around the council table that has them challenging the orthodoxy of past practices.
Only great civic government can help Prince Albert to achieve what’s entirely within its grasp in coming decades.
Prince Albert Daily Herald