Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Snow-clearing cut proposed

City could save $3M: consultant

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The city is willing to consider a recommendation to reduce the width of snowplowing on city streets as a way to save taxpayers money.

But Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface), the chairman of the public works committee, insisted Friday there would be no effect on clearing windrows from in front of driveways or sidewalks.

"If it's only a foot or 18 inches on each side of the curb, let's talk about that," Vandal said. "I'm willing to let it come to committee (executive policy committee) and have further discussion. (But) windrows are off the table."

Vandal was referring to one of 25 recommendations in an external audit of the public works department that could trim up to $5.5 million from operations annually. The recommendation to reduce the width of street snowplowing represented a potential saving of $2 million to $3 million, according to the report conducted by consultant KPMG.

Vandal acknowledged the city's $10-million deficit, with three months left on the calendar year, is pressuring council to consider all options. "That's the context we're in," he said. "Things are tight fiscally."

Deputy mayor and finance committee chairman Russ Wyatt added that cleaning the entire street "knocks the heck out of our curbs," which is an additional cost to the city.

However, Wyatt conceded that any move by the city to tinker with a hot-button issue such as street-cleaning will create opposition.

"Ultimately, whenever you introduce an element of change, there will be those who embrace it and those who do not," he said.

Wyatt and Vandal noted the recommendations were only in the embryonic stage and will be presented to EPC Wednesday for discussion. "This is just an idea, a suggestion from KPMG," Vandal said.

The report, released Friday afternoon, suggested the 25 recommendations could be implemented in 12 months to four years.

The first stage of the KPMG report, which cost $287,500, consists of an operational review. A second stage involves a plan to implement the recommendations.

The public works operating budget for 2013 is $180 million. The KPMG recommendations amount to two to three per cent of the department's annual budget.

The city said in a release none of the recommendations involves reducing service levels, but savings can be achieved by "different approaches to conducting business."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 B1

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