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Uncertainty over who will oversee six new transit officers

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There's cash in the city budget for more transit security next year, but it's unclear who will perform the job.

The city has set aside $234,000 in the 2014 operating budget to add six patrol positions to Winnipeg Transit's budget, as transit drivers and administration suggested earlier this year.

The cash would add six positions to an existing core of transit supervisors, who belong to the Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers, or WAPSO, a union representing city professionals and middle managers.

The Winnipeg Police Association, however, has pointed out patrol work falls under their bargaining unit, St. Vital councillor Brian Mayes told the public works committee reviewing portions of the 2014 budget.
The committee was told police cadets may do the work.

A third union — the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1505, which represents bus drivers and Winnipeg Transit staff — is advocating for the workers to ride on buses, not patrol on foot.

Mayes said the city should approve the funding now and figure out who does the work before July 1.

The province may be expected to cover half the cost of the additional staff, under a deal where the city and province split the cost of transit operations on a 50-50 basis.

Transit drivers have been asking for more security for several years. A high-profile attack on a driver, captured on video this fall, has helped raise awareness of transit safety concerns.

Unpaid leave troubling

The plan to save money by forcing non-essential city workers to take 3.5 days of unpaid leave may not be viable.

Public works director Brad Sacher said he couldn't allow staff to participate in the voluntary furlough initiative because he couldn't spare them, adding he doesn't know how he'll deal with the unpaid leave plan.

That was the same message a different committee heard from the community services director last week.
And, the water and waste director told the committee today she believes all her staff will be exempt from the plan.

When the money-saving move was announced by Mayor Katz Nov. 29, he said emergency personnel — police, firefighters and paramedics — would be exempt, along with transit.

The city has yet to define which workers are non-essential.

Dursban use ends in 2014

The city will end its use of Dursban for mosquito larviciding in 2014, as the manufacturer has stopped making the controversial product.

Public works director Brad Sacher said the city will begin using 100 per cent biological agents in 2015.
Sacher said the city's leftover supply of Dursban will be sold to Edmonton.

Transit gambles on fuel cost

The Winnipeg Transit budget is betting on fuel prices falling in 2014.

Transit director David Wardrop said he is budgeting diesel fuel in 2014 at $1.05 per litre, even though it's at $1.15 now.

"There is some risk," Wardrop told the public works committee.

Transit's diesel costs for 2013 have averaged $1.037 per lite; the price in 2012 was $1 per litre.

The gamble could cause problems for Transit, and for Wardrop, who is considered by some at city hall to be the leading internal candidate for the vacant CAO position.

Fuel accounts for the second-largest expenditure at Transit, 12 per cent of its budget. Only salaries and benefits, at 60 per cent, take up more of Transit's budget.

Landfill, water rates on rise

Tipping fees at the Brady Road landfill will increase by almost 50 per cent, if the water and waste utility budget is approved.

Director Diane Sacher said the tipping fees will go up Feb. 1 to $49.50 from $33.50.

Homeowners will also be paying more on their water bill in 2014. Sacher said the water and sewer rates are increasing 4.3 per cent, costing the typical household and additional 11 cents every day.

The water and sewer rate increases were approved by council in 2012.


Updated on Monday, December 9, 2013 at 6:04 PM CST: adds details and more council briefs

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