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First round of cuts suggested in core service review

Posted by Derek Flack / July 11, 2011

Core Service Review Cuts Toronto KPMGIn an effort to plug the $774-million hole in the 2012 budget, the City of Toronto has conducted a core service review to identify possible areas of saving. Earlier today the first report related this review was released in the form of outside consultant KPMG's study of public works services. Those hoping that the firm would uncover widespread instances of waste will, however, likely be disappointed. According to the report, "the vast majority, 96%, of services that report through the Public Works Committee are core municipal services, either mandatory as a result of provincial legislative requirements or essential to the continued operation of the City as an urban area."

As far as levels of service go, City spending seems anything but outrageous. "Over half of the services that report through the Public Works Committee are provided "at standard," which is generally the level required by provincial legislation or the level generally provided by other municipalities," reads the report. "30% of services are provided at slightly above standard offering some opportunities for cost reduction by lowering the service level provided. 17% of services are delivered slightly below or below standard."

Not much gravy to be found here, it would seem.

Before listing off the services the report suggests could be cut or scaled back, it's crucial to note the methodological limitations of KPMG's study. Despite the fact that the review examines approximately 105 services, the scope of the analysis is quite restricted. "To meet the objectives of this review, KPMG conducted an assessment of services delivered and service levels, and identified options and opportunities the City could potentially undertake to make changes to its suite of services," the firm notes in introductory document. "KPMG did not assess the effectiveness or efficiency of City services. Assessment of how services are delivered is envisioned to be conducted through separate efficiency reviews.... KPMG did not conduct financial analyses of programs and services to identify potential savings."

Apparently an efficiency report that will take to these tasks is on the horizon, but given the order in which they've been conducted, the City appears less interested in ascertaining how to service levels via more efficient management and implementation than it is in identifying what it can cut or scale back — a dubious strategy given Mayor Ford's campaign rhetoric regarding overspending and inefficiency at City Hall.

Recommended cuts or scale-backs include:

  • The report suggests that Toronto's target of 70% waste diversion from landfill is "very aggressive" and a reduction could yield savings.
  • Toronto currently conducts street sweeping throughout the summer, while the report suggests that residential streets could be done only in spring.
  • The report suggests collecting fees from all street events permits issued to ensure full cost recovery.
  • Elimination of the fluoridation of Toronto water.
  • Elimination of community "environment days" (held by City councillors in their wards).
  • Elimination of the Toxic Taxi and four free overflow bags of garbage each household is allotted per year.
  • Elimination of commercial waste collection for small businesses.
  • Reduction of the scale of cycling infrastructure (because the "Bicycle Plan and Program are more extensive than warranted by bicycle volumes").

  • Reduction of snow plow services on residential streets.

Read the full PDF here.



Sean / July 11, 2011 at 01:13 pm
So uh...just how is Rob Ford going to deal with this deficit?

Might I suggest selling off one of those pesky outer regions of the GTA?
steve / July 11, 2011 at 01:15 pm
Has the city already cut back on public works? the condition of city parks seems to indicate they have. and the dreaded dead tree surrounded by weeds is back.
Kieren / July 11, 2011 at 01:16 pm
Don't worry y'all, industry and private business will save us!
Craig replying to a comment from Kieren / July 11, 2011 at 01:19 pm
From Rob and Doug?
AV / July 11, 2011 at 01:24 pm
Rob Ford’s election promise:

“I will assure you that services will not be cut... guaranteed.”

- Toronto Star, October 8, 2010
Craig replying to a comment from AV / July 11, 2011 at 01:29 pm
They aren't cuts, they are selective non-positive funding re-allocations.
Kieren replying to a comment from AV / July 11, 2011 at 01:30 pm
Neither those who voted for him or didn't vote him believed him.

The difference between the two is that those who did vote for him don't really care.
Patrick / July 11, 2011 at 01:30 pm
I know this is only the first report, but I am amazed at all that 'Gravy' (sarc).

It looks like there are quite a few programs that are delivered at or below their target budget, and many of the potential savings are in areas where the Council has been directly involved.

In other cases, it seems that the consultants are suggesting that the City should charge more for some services. Is that what Ford nation was hoping to hear? Seems like they are getting a pretty good deal from these first few departments.
anon / July 11, 2011 at 01:39 pm
I hope everyone who bitched and complained in order to save approx 0.17 per day (PVT) is happy :-P
AV replying to a comment from Craig / July 11, 2011 at 01:39 pm

hendrix / July 11, 2011 at 01:41 pm
I don't drive a car -- maybe Ford should cut back on road maintenance and paving since my money is being wasted on this service I don't use. I only want my money going to the things I use. All the rest is gravy ;)
jason / July 11, 2011 at 01:46 pm
At least the police got theirs.
The Liquor / July 11, 2011 at 01:49 pm
I thought we had a spending problem, not a revenue problem?

Why all the cuts, Robbie? I seem to recall you specifically saying NO CUTS TO SERVICES. You were going to slash the gravy and we would move forward as a city living in luxury.

Why you gotta lie, Rob?
rek / July 11, 2011 at 01:58 pm
1. Only absolute idiots thought there would be enough 'waste' to cut to make a significant difference. These same idiots also think freezing or cutting taxes makes sense.

2. The proposed cuts above undo about 20 years of environmental awareness, encouraging people to toss toxic stuff in with their regular garbage, dump excess garbage over the nearest fence, or push it to the gutter for the sweepers to get in 8 months. Also, landfills are bottomless.
AE / July 11, 2011 at 01:58 pm
"Elimination of the fluoridation of Toronto water."

Wait, what?
Steve / July 11, 2011 at 02:01 pm
Parks are definitely not being maintained. There used to be several beautifully-manicured large parks in the Bathurst/Finch area... Went by there the other day and they're filled with weeds, dying trees, and grass as high as your waist. It looks like Detroit.
yipeee / July 11, 2011 at 02:04 pm
since ford is going to bury the recycle program literally, I guess I won't have to separate my garbage no more. /sarcasm

But even doing these i guess you can call them cuts, it is still no where near the 800 million dollar hole.
Matthew Fabb / July 11, 2011 at 02:07 pm
Got cut the gravy in city hall, like you know, clearing snow off of on residential streets! Wait.. what?!?
W. K. Lis / July 11, 2011 at 02:19 pm
Because the Ford brothers cut the revenue sources (vehicle licensing tax) and had a 0% increase in taxes, even though inflation was 3.7% in May, we will have to cut service. Despite Rob's promises not to cut service (he did already by cutting service on 42 bus routes).
Jerome / July 11, 2011 at 02:25 pm
Also, in the report......"consider removing windrow clearing program". You know what that is? Those are the giant piles of snow that plows leave in front of your driveway. Just exactly how are people supposed to clear those?
Oy. / July 11, 2011 at 02:27 pm
"Reduction of snow plow services on residential streets."

Great idea! Until seniors start slipping and falling and having heart attacks from shoveling and start suing the city en masse.
Kieren replying to a comment from Jerome / July 11, 2011 at 02:29 pm
Private sector. Everyone hires their own.

steve replying to a comment from Steve / July 11, 2011 at 02:33 pm
Took Miller a few years and a lot of money to clean up after Mel. Looks like all that money was wasted.
When Rob finishes with TO we can sister city with Hamilton
Antony replying to a comment from Jerome / July 11, 2011 at 02:38 pm
Jerome: The easiest way to clear windrows is the same as disposing of toxic waste: Just shovel it into your neighbor's yard.

serious / July 11, 2011 at 02:53 pm
it is pretty easy to make jokes about the lunacy of this report until you realize it cost taxpaxers 3 million dollars. that is correct - $3,000,000.

here is how I would save money for our city, and i am giving this away for free. suspend the voting rights of anyone who bought into the sham of a campaign put forth by rob ford. anyone who voted for him is far too guillable to be trusted to vote again.

it is funny that none of his supporters are speaking up today.

Paul replying to a comment from serious / July 11, 2011 at 02:56 pm
Oh they are. They're ranting on and on about unions and wages and benefits and bikes.
James / July 11, 2011 at 03:37 pm

With the greatest of respect for some posters; and the note that I favour expansion and improvement to many city services....

The idea of cutting WINDROW service is entirely sensible. No other municipality does this, and this service is not provided in the 'old' city of Toronto, as the roads are too narrow.

Shovel your own driveway! Let's save the money for more important things (parks, libraries, etc. etc.)


While I don't want to see street cleaning scaled back, particularly where its needed; there are definitely quiet streets getting daily cleaning that do not require it.


Not properly evaluated in this report is the gross under-pricing of both permit and on-street parking.

CALGARY (yes that bastion of socialism) charges $5 an hour for on-street parking, Toronto is still only $3.50.

While parking permits are charged out at between $15-$45 per month. Good luck getting that on the open market. If you had to rent a parking space from the Beaches to Parkdale or anywhere in between, $100 per month is about as good as it gets. Double that in the heart of downtown.

Allowing parking at $.50c per day is absurd.

Parking is not a social service and should be charged back at market value.

The City could easily raise another $25 million a year from parking.
T.J. replying to a comment from Steve / July 11, 2011 at 03:51 pm
ET Seton Park (Don Mills/Eglinton area) is absolutely disgusting. Garbage everywhere, even with dozens of large plastic bins all over the place.
Andrew replying to a comment from serious / July 11, 2011 at 04:04 pm
Wait, the report cost $3 million? The cost of fluoridation is only $1.9 million (according to The Star's article on this), so cutting that won't even pay for the report.
DaveMcD / July 11, 2011 at 04:06 pm
This service review is a necessary start but any basic management course will tell you the big savings are in how efficiently you deliver a service not in what service you deliver. There is huge money to be saved in reversing the jobs for life culture of entitlement that pervades City Hall after seven years of Miller pandering to his union allies, but it will take years of good, accountable management we haven't had in years.
Craig replying to a comment from DaveMcD / July 11, 2011 at 04:13 pm
Or Ford giving a hefty raise to the cops, right?
The Shakes / July 11, 2011 at 04:34 pm
The city needs to also look at revenue not just expenses. Here are some ideas for raising revenue that don't involve raising taxes:
- Have a raccoon cull, and sell Davy Crockett hats
- Have a pigeon cull and sell seats to squab-a-licious
- Hold a big car wash on the DVP, 905'ers could have their cars washed while they sit and rot in traffic
- Politicians can shave their head to raise funds for Toronto. I'd pay to see Karen Stinz bald
- Busking: i would love to whip quarters at Mammoliti as he tries to juggle flaming torches
Sean replying to a comment from The Shakes / July 11, 2011 at 04:40 pm
If you ran for mayor, I would have voted for you.
kstop replying to a comment from Sean / July 11, 2011 at 05:42 pm
I think the plan is to sell off the pesky inner section.
serious replying to a comment from The Shakes / July 11, 2011 at 05:50 pm
all great ideas but that car wash concept makes it sound like you are a squegee kid sympathizer...
Sean replying to a comment from kstop / July 11, 2011 at 05:59 pm
Well, I am a whore anyway. So, might as well become a corporate whore!
joe / July 11, 2011 at 07:03 pm
hey you forgot to cut back garbage pick up to once a month that would save a bundle
Derek / July 11, 2011 at 10:27 pm
Every article/blog post highlights this from the recommendations:

"Reduction of the scale of cycling infrastructure (because the "Bicycle Plan and Program are more extensive than warranted by bicycle volumes")."

But does anyone know what are the costs associated with the program aside from some white and yellow paint to create the lanes? (I'm oversimplifying obviously. But seriously, what are the costs?)
MrD replying to a comment from James / July 11, 2011 at 10:51 pm
Incorrect, the City of Vaughan provides both windrow and sidewalk clearing of snow. I guess tax dollars go further up there.
Terry / July 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm
So the Ford brothers are learning that the existing services are important, based on feedback. No surprise for many of us that there isn't as much gravy as they claimed. However they did commission consultants $$$ to tell us what we already know - now THAT is gravy.
Match the property tax increase to inflation (or even increase 5%) and we still enjoy the best tax-to-service ratio of any North American city. So this is out of the question, Fords? Silly.
Brad / July 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm
I realize everyone hates cutting anything, but nobody has any real suggestions to fix the budget
Jibbly replying to a comment from James / July 12, 2011 at 12:32 am
Good point on the parking. Just remember to increase fines for failure to pay'n'display while you're at it, or drivers will stop paying altogether. Folks in my neighborhood already just view tickets as a $35 "park where you want to" fee.

one year later replying to a comment from Brad / July 12, 2011 at 02:39 am
ummm, raise property taxes to regional standards, do not refuse provincial money for transit, for nurses etc... , re-instate the car tax... you know, what we were doing a year ago when we had a budget surplus.
Just because you call yourself a "conservative" doesn't mean you know what the f&%* you are doing with money (see: harper, bush, mulroney, reagan etc...).
grow up and out of your narrow political views, study history and learn from past mistakes.
this s*%& doesn't pay for itself people - a city is not a business - it's a social service.
one year later replying to a comment from one year later / July 12, 2011 at 09:12 am
oh, and I'm not directing my &*^%$%&'s at you Brad (!) - i just realized it may read like that - sorry!.
m / July 12, 2011 at 09:48 am
at the moment, in this heat, i do not dare open the window of my living room overlooking bathurst street for the stench of garbage. AND we're not even having a garbage strike this summer. it's been less than a week for pickup in my hood, and it's been smelling like this since after the pickup last week!!!! this city is disgusting!!!!!

when i was in san francisco a couple of years ago i saw no garbage for an entire week. i didn't see it being collected, i didn't smell it or notice anything else conspicuously garbage-related. it was a place where i didn't have to think about garbage each time i walked outside. what do they do with it all? do they va-poo-rize it?
mcsquinty replying to a comment from Steve / July 12, 2011 at 11:35 am
You can thank the province for that.
Banning all effective weed killers was part of this issue.

You can put lipstick on a pig, does not fix the situation.

liberal thinking got us into this mess. NDP does not help and the PC well they clean it up but in a way no one likes.

Bottom line?
So long as we have extremists in any direction left/right up down we can not fix this situation.

I drive and commute as much as I can by on my bike. I love to cycle.
However those who use a bike need to properly learn to ride.
More importantly the province needs to step in and fix the idiot drivers. How do you get a licence without understanding one official language?
They don't even know what a stop sign is. Here is a tip to everyone.
This is for both bikes and cars.

mcsquinty replying to a comment from James / July 12, 2011 at 11:46 am
I thought I was alone with sanity

Thank you for understanding what our problem is.
Why is parking this cheap.
Andrew / July 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm
I like this suggestion: "Elimination of the fluoridation of Toronto water.". There's no scientific evidence to prove that drinking fluoridated water helps your dental health in any way, on the contrary swallowing too much fluoride is unhealthy (toothpaste even says "do not swallow" on the tube), that's one of the main reasons I have a water filter (also to get rid of chlorine and the small traces of lead, petro-chemicals and pharmaceuticals found in city water). It would be a great way to save money and improve public health.

I don't think getting rid of garbage collection for small businesses would be a good idea, they need all the breaks they can get to compete against larger businesses and stay in operation. Everyone who drives needs snow plowing, cutting back on it wouldn't make sense.
rek replying to a comment from mcsquinty / July 13, 2011 at 09:13 pm
We still haven't recovered from the last time the PCs tried to "clean it up" – downloading costs to cities, slashing taxes (and giving sports teams a secret tax break), fucking with water treatment (Walkerton – ask Tim Hudak all about it), slashing support for HOSPITALS and EDUCATION, kicking half a million people off social assistance, and leaving behind an undisclosed deficit when they were eventually turfed.
Superbad replying to a comment from hendrix / February 3, 2012 at 10:46 am
Hey Hendrix, obviously you don't drive so you haven't noticed that the roads are in the poorest condition ever. What spending what frickin service are you talking about. The moon has a better driving surface than Toronto's roads. Years ago the taxes were less but the services were there. Roads, Garbage, Clean city streets. Our city sucks when it comes to cleanliness its frickin horrible.
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