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Committee approves limiting CAO's ability to award contracts

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The fire hall scandal has resulted in curtailing some of the powers of the city’s senior public servant to award contracts.

Members of executive policy committee endorsed a recommendation that the chief administrative officer be limited to issuing contracts up to $5 million, without council’s approval.

Previously, the CAO had the ability to issue contracts for up to $10 million.

The change was prompted by the fire hall replacement program, where former CAO Phil Sheegl split up a $12.3-million contract to build four new fire halls into four smaller contracts. The projects then came in under the $10-million threshold needed for council approval, and Sheegl awarded the contracts without tender to local developer Shindico Realty.

But, the change doesn’t go far enough for one councillor.

Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) said the $5-million limit still leaves room for manipulation of contracts, adding the limit should be reduced to $1 million on a short-term basis, until a permanent CAO is hired.

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