First round of cuts suggested in core service review
In 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.