City finance committee approves extra $4.8M to help cover firefighter overtime costs

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City councillors on the finance committee approved adding $4.8 million to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service budget to avoid a projected shortfall by the end of the year.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 04/09/2018 (1551 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City councillors on the finance committee approved adding $4.8 million to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service budget to avoid a projected shortfall by the end of the year.

Council had approved $193.5 million for the WFPS for 2018, but service officials said they wouldn’t be able to stay within that amount.

John Hall, the WFPS financial controller, told the committee Tuesday firefighting overtime accounts for $1.5 million of the over-expenditure, with another $1.1 million for firefighter benefits.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Firefighters put out a house fire at Arlington and Ellice Ave. in July. A $4.8 million increase to the WFPS budget to cover overtime costs was just one of several items covered by city councillors on the finance committee, Tuesday.

The overtime costs are not unexpected. The WFPS has repeatedly under-budgeted firefighter overtime costs and this year is no different, citing a staff shortage. The WFPS had budgeted about $900,000 for overtime in 2018, but it’s projected to be almost $2.4 million. The actual overtime costs in 2017 were $2.124 million.

 

 

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The WFPS budget was one of a handful of issues reviewed by the committee, including the Waverley Street rail underpass (which remains on schedule), and upgrades to the south-end sewage treatment plan, which is also on schedule and on budget.

Mike Ruta, the city’s chief financial officer, said some progress has been made over the summer on the funding dispute with the provincial government.

Ruta said provincial officials have verbally agreed to the funding formula for ambulance services this year, but he added civic officials are still waiting for a formal, written agreement.

There appears to be no resolve, however, to the city’s contention the province has shortchanged it on the rapid transit corridor funding. While Mayor Brian Bowman had previously said he’s prepared to take this to court, Ruta told the committee talks are ongoing.

Councillors were told revenues from the impact fee — a new charge on residential development in certain suburban areas — have totalled $15 million to the end of June: $4 million from part of 2017, and $11 million so far this year.

The impact fee revenue is supposed to offset infrastructure costs related to new development. However, the funds remain placed in a reserve, pending the outcome of a court challenge by the home-building industry, which claims the city doesn’t have the authority to impose the fee.

Finance chairman Scott Gillingham said while the City of Winnipeg faces financial pressures, he supports holding the funds aside until the court challenge is resolved.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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