Basic building blocks

One of the first things they teach you in Directors College is to understand the basic building blocks of your organization and the relationships between them.

There are three parts to our local government:

  • Our taxpayers – Community
  • Our elected officials – Council
  • Our city employees – City Hall

Our democratic institutions are founded on the understanding that we can achieve more working together to improve quality of life than we can as individuals. This is “why” we do it.

The Community elects members of Council to provide leadership. They expect results, that is to say an improved quality of life.

The Community provides taxes to City Hall to deliver services. They expect value in return for their investment.

Council provides oversight of City Hall on behalf of the Community ensuring City Hall has the right leadership, direction and control to effectively and efficiently manage the organization. Council expects performance excellence from City Hall.

At a very high level, and in very simple terms, this is “what” we do together.

The conversation we are currently having – “doing business differently” – is focussed on “how” we should express these relationships. How should Council provide leadership and demonstrate results? How should City Hall manage and demonstrate performance? How should City Hall provide services and demonstrate value? What are the principles that should guide how we execute these roles? How do we need to interact with each other?


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About Karen Farbridge

An unwavering change maker seeking a just, democratic and sustainable world.

View all posts by Karen Farbridge

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