An independent consulting firm is suggesting a wide-range of cuts to services offered by the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure division, from solid waste collection and snow removal to eliminating fluoridation in Toronto’s drinking water.
The 44-page report was prepared for the city by consulting firm KPMG as part of a study into ways to pare down the city’s operating budgets.
The review found that 96 per cent of services offered by public works are basic to running the city, but just over a third of them could be offered for less.
Since Rob Ford came into office last fall, the cost-conscious mayor has left no stone unturned as he seeks to cut excess spending.
Of the some 24 suggestions from the big consulting firm, only two of them are listed as “high” potential savings and three are listed as “medium” potential savings.
The report provided no overall cost savings.
The high savings suggestions include reducing bicycle infrastructure and eliminating small commercial waste collection. The medium savings include further contracting out of waste collection, reducing the target rate for diverting waste from landfills into recycling and composting, and collecting fees from all street event permits.
However, one of the more bizarre suggestions from the comprehensive report called for the elimination of fluoride of Toronto water beginning in 2013 which it warns could have some consequences. “The fluoridation of drinking water could be eliminated, with impacts on dental health,” it said in the report.
The items will be discussed at a committee meeting on July 18, but some city councillors were quick to condemn the report sanctioned by the mayor, noting that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“People are willing to pay for better services. That’s what this report tells you,” said councillor Adam Vaughan. “But what it really tells you for all the millions he spent to hire consultants to find savings even they couldn’t find the savings unless you do things like stop clearing the snow. Why don’t we stop cleaning the drinking water and see how much that saves us?”
Toronto is faced with a looming $774-million budget shortfall. In the spring, the city kicked off a comprehensive review of all city services, how they are provided, and the fees people pay for them.