Audit suggests cutting service, privatizing trash
Toronto should send more trash to landfills and further privatize its garbage collection in order to bring its spending back in line, a consulting firm said on Monday.
The city could save further money by cutting down on how often streets are cleaned and snow is plowed, and by eliminating the fluoridation of its water supply, the city-hired firm KPMG LLP said.
In a review of Toronto's Public Works and Infrastructure committee, KPMG LLP outlined about two dozen changes that could be made to help deal with a multimillion-dollar shortfall currently faced by the city.
The report is the first section of a larger core service review to be released to the public. The full report analyzes all 105 city services and make recommendations on change that could save the city money.
City council called for the full service review in April, asking KPMG to recommend ways to bring spending in line with the city budget. Toronto faces a $774-million shortfall in 2012.
The city earmarked $3 million for the consultants to review Toronto's services, a move some councillors are calling wasteful.
"The money they are spending on these consultants is a waste of time and a waste of effort," Coun. Adam Vaughan told CTV News on Monday evening.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure committee, says the report was intended to identify all the ways the city could save money. Once the full report has been reviewed, councillors will discuss which recommendations to pursue, possibly in September.
"Some services are going to be more difficult to consider cutting and there will be more political ramifications than others," Minnan-Wong told CTV News.
While the report does not provide dollar estimates for their recommendations, it does mark each with a potential savings rating of low, medium or high.
He added that 96 per cent of the services handled by Public Works and Infrastructure are considered either mandatory or essential, meaning there is very little movement available. He said contracting out more services would reduce staffing costs.
The report gives a recommendation to contract out more of the city's garbage collection the highest potential savings mark, and considers eliminating collection of small commercial waste as another significant cost reduction.
A recommendation that the city reduce its target on how much garbage is diverted from landfills through recycling initiatives is also considered highly lucrative.
Toronto currently tries to divert 70 per cent of its waste through recycling – a more expensive alternative to filling landfills.
The report also says that while the city currently conducts street sweeping throughout the summer, it could save money by stopping after it finishes its spring cleanup.
The report also suggests eliminating clearing snow windrows – which are the lines of packed snow that are left in front of driveways by city snow plows.
Other recommendations include outsourcing city grass cutting, eliminating the free garbage tag program and eliminating the fluoridation of city water.
"It is very likely that dental health of Toronto residents would decline," the report notes as a perceived risk.
Minnan-Wong said there is very little chance the City of Toronto would consider getting rid of fluoridation.
A debate is scheduled for July 28 and public meetings are expected.
In another cost-cutting measure, the city is expected to announce a round of sweeping employee buyouts on Tuesday morning as part of a new Voluntary Separation Program, according to a memo obtained by The Globe and Mail.
Roughly 50,000 city workers will have until Sept. 9 to apply online to take a lump sum worth up to six months pay if they agree to leave the city's employ.
Departure dates for approved staff would be between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.