An additional senior management position will be created to lighten the workload currently faced by Hope Lee, manager of housing for the city.
There will also be more tenant representatives on the governing council and an ability for the housing corporation to carry short term debt that would allow it to continue to build more geared-to-income housing right across its service region.
Council received this much-anticipated consultant’s report from Judy Lightbound, from HCS Business Solutions, on the operations and governance of Kawartha Lakes Haliburton Housing, a report six months in the making.
Lightbound told council that KLHH “is a fully evolved mature organization with a clear strategic vision, an engaged board, a reputation as a credible and progressive partner, a knowledgeable staff and is financially viable in the long-term.”
With that in mind she was not looking for “wholesale changes” but rather improvements that would better prepare the corporation for growth in the future.
Her first recommendation was to split the CEO position, currently held by Hope Lee, into two jobs with the second position titled Housing Service Manager.
Lightbound argued that Lee’s job needs to be split and by bringing in a second individual the “workload will be better aligned moving forward.”
Lightbound also recommended that the governing board managing KLHH become more diverse by including a representative of tenants in Kawartha Lakes and one from Haliburton.
Her final recommendation was likely the most controversial suggesting that KLHH look at a debt management strategy to understand what its debt capacity might be to fund projects in the future.
Councillor Patrick O’Reilly wanted more information on this recommendation.
Hope Lee told O’Reilly that the City treasurer and County treasurer were “working together to produce a report by the second quarter of 2021 that would contemplate what debt limits for all city run services including KLHH might look like.”
Mayor Andy Letham asked CAO Ron Taylor to comment on the consultant’s report, and Taylor was very supportive of all the recommendations Lightbound was making.
“This look at KLHH was part of an overall city modernization review,” Taylor said, “and its goal was to see if we were operating and using best practices.”
“We are very focused on debt management for all city operations,” Taylor continued, “and debt taken on by KLHH would be good debt because it will generate income that will later pay for the debt. We run a really good operation (KLHH) and we need it to expand and grow.”
Councillor Pat Dunn, who sits on the KLHH board, said there was much discussion about hiring the additional manager but the feeling of all nine board members was “it was time. The system only works because of Hope and the entire board supported the hiring of the new person.”
The consultant’s report and its recommendations were passed unanimously by council.