City administrators are looking internally to see where costs can be cut and efficiencies found. However, the City’s $23 million shortfall in energy subsidies can not all be found through cost cutting measures without causing significant impacts on City services. For example, cutting $23 million from the municipal services tax supported budget would be the equivalent to cutting all snow plowing, road maintenance and street sweeping services, as well as all four outdoor swimming pools and the entire transit service. We will need multiple solutions to help become financially fit for the future.
The City has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to help reduce costs, including:
- Fleet value for money audit, which resulted in a reduction of the City’s fleet by roughly 20 per cent.
- Implementation of the Fire Services Optimization Plan, which will improve fire services response time through:
- Implementation of traffic preemption technology
- Changes to dispatch process
- Installation of Mobile Data Terminals (MDT’s) in fire apparatus
- Relocation of Fire Stations 1 and 2, deferring costs associated with operating a fourth fire station for 10 years, resulting in $30 million savings in operations
- Organizational structure, bringing Energy and Municipal Divisions together to find efficiencies, bolster collaboration and streamline operations
- Shrub Bed Removal Program, which will see Parks and Recreation remove approximately half of the 513 shrub beds across the City. The manual labour required to maintain the shrub beds is very expensive. It is estimated that $110,000 per year will be save in operating costs by reducing the number of shrub beds across the city.
- Gershaw Interchange Landscape Redevelopment, will see the Gershaw Interchange, consisting of 19 acres of manicured turf and irrigation requiring replacement, converted to a more naturalized, yet presentable landscape. It is estimated that $500,000 in capital costs will be saved. Work is scheduled to be started in 2018.
The City will also look at potential cost savings through:
- Centralized stores, including effective purchasing and ordering materials and supplies
- Space optimization, including examining leased and underutilized space to understand how much of the city’s 1.2 million square feet of facility space can be released/sold.