Transcona councillor Russ Wyatt says senior public servants are more concerned about protecting their own wallets than saving money for taxpayers.
Wyatt, finance chairman, said he believes department heads are opposed to the 3.5 days of unpaid leave for non-essential staff proposed in the 2014 budget because their personal pensions will suffer if they are also forced to take unpaid leave.
"The greatest resistance we’ve received is from the most senior management of the city... Because they’re going to be impacted directly on their pensions," Wyatt told reporters this morning.
Acting CAO Deepak Joshi declined to comment on Wyatt’s accusations, adding however that members of the public service have acted "in good faith" in preparing the budget for council’s consideration.
"During council’s consideration of the budget, it would be inappropriate for the public service to comment on any aspect of the budget proposal," Joshi said in an email to the Free Press.
Wyatt was responding to comments from two civic directors who said they didn’t know who among their staff would be designated "non-essential" and be forced to take unpaid leave.
The unpaid leave initiative is included in the preliminary 2014 budget released Nov. 29. Mayor Sam Katz said it’s expected to save the city $1.5 million and would apply only to non-essential civic workers, including members of council and their staff.
However, Clive Wightman, director of community services, and Brad Sacher, director of public works, said they have not yet been told who the "non-essential" workers are.
Wyatt said the directors do know who among their staff are "non-essential," adding they just don’t want the program to go ahead.
"I believe if there is a will, there is a way," Wyatt said of the unpaid leave plan. "The savings are there and the question is, is the will there."