An external audit of the public works department says upwards of $5.5 million in annual savings can be achieved with changes in the department’s operations.
The report, conducted by KPMG LLP, suggests 25 recommendations which could be implemented in 12 months to four years, which would generate $3.5 million to $5.5 million in savings.
While the city issued a press release Friday morning stating none of the KPMG recommendation involve reductions in service levels, some of the recommendations released later in the day clearly involve service cutbacks, particularly to street snow clearing and greenspace maintenance.
Public works’ operating budget for 2013 is $180 million. The KPMG recommendations amount to two to three per cent of department’s annual budget.
The KPMG report states only Winnipeg of the six communities it reviewed (the report doesn’t identify the other five communities) clears its streets in winter from curb to curb.
Money could be saved, KPMG states, if Winnipeg narrowed the driving space it cleared on streets; cut back on maintenance for flowers, flower bed and outdoor bowling greens; and stop financially supporting the efforts of private-property owners to clean graffiti off their buildings.
The city states in a release that none of the recommendations involve reduction of service levels, but savings can be achieved by "different approaches to conducting business."
The KPMG report, which cost $287,500, is the first of two studies it is doing on City of Winnipeg operations. The second report will focus on how some of the recommendations can be implemented.
KPMG Recommendations for Public Works
Potential Annual Savings
$2 million - $3 million - Reduce width of street snow plowing
$1.2 million - Expand contract management
$400,000 - Modernize permit system
$1 million - Secure better terms for vehicle fleet management
$500,000 - $1 million - Reduce overtime, schedule summer weekend shifts
$200,000 - End support for graffiti cleaning program on private property
$100,000 - $200,000 - Reducing maintenance of public and ornamental gardens
How Winnipeg Compares to Five Other Major Canadian Communities
(Names of the communities were not identified in the report)
- Overall operating costs and staffing levels comparable to other communities.
- Capital costs per capita lower than other cities.
- Street maintenance costs slightly higher; service level standards are similar.
- Costs higher for snow removal as a result of higher service standards.
- Parks and forestry costs in line, if not lower, than other cities.
- Winnipeg Public Works contracts out more than other communities, especially for snow clearing.
- Winnipeg uses smaller crews for street and park maintenance; larger crews for urban forestry.