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Firefighter OT costs not in

A city councillor isn't pleased with the administration of the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, which has yet to account for its 2013 overtime costs.

A report from the WFPS was due on Thursday's agenda of the finance committee but there was no one present from the WFPS and CFO Mike Ruta said a report will be ready for September.

"The fact it's been on the agenda since November and it's not here is not acceptable," Coun. Russ Wyatt, chairman of the committee, said.

With no alternatives, the committee put the issue over to its September meeting.

The WFPS was facing a multimillion-dollar overtime bill last year, mainly due to a shortage of firefighters. The issue resulted in a showdown between the firefighters union and the service administration, which was preparing to reduce staffing at two fire halls to deal with the budget shortfall.

However, the staffing changes never occurred when the union and service administration agreed on a plan to reduce OT costs.


Strict budgets for 2015

CITY departments have been given strict budget guidelines for 2015.

Chief financial officer Mike Ruta told the finance committee Thursday all departments were told they had to keep their budgets at 2014 levels, with the only exception being to deal with new initiatives ordered by council.

Ruta said the budget order also applies to salary increases, adding any additional cost increases because of salary bumps have to be matched with cuts to the department.

"We've told people that every other category has to stay at the same level as previous years," Ruta said

Ruta informed the committee of the budget restriction after Coun. Paula Havixbeck proposed a motion departments be required to submit a business case proposal for any budget increase greater than the consumer price index.


Road work costs go up

THE cost of road work this year will be more expensive than city officials had expected.

Public works director Brad Sacher said a jump in the cost of asphalt is resulting in a seven per cent increase in street pavement costs.

Sacher also said contractors have so much work that they believe they won't be able to meet the city's timelines for completion and are including the penalties they expect the city to impose into the bids for the road work.


Governance questioned

TRANSCONA Coun. Russ Wyatt called on the provincial government to appoint a judicial inquiry into the goings-on at city hall and on Thursday he said it should also review the city's governance model.

Wyatt said it's been almost 12 years since the province introduced the City of Winnipeg Charter, adding the province needs to review the powers of the mayor's office and how standing committees function and relate to administration.

"Everything should be on the table, especially comparing how Winnipeg operates to other municipalities in Manitoba," Wyatt said.

"It's been 12 years, so the time is now."

Wyatt said he doesn't believe city hall needs the powerful executive policy committee, which is sometimes referred to as the mayor's cabinet, adding administrative recommendations are wrongly screened by the mayor's office before going to council.

Wyatt said the province should conduct both reviews simultaneously, adding they're both needed urgently and one shouldn't take priority over the other.


-- Santin

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 18, 2014 B2


Updated on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 8:33 AM CDT: Changes headline

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