The Problem

You are overpaying in taxes for continually shrinking core services.

The City of Edmonton is responsible for looking out for the needs of its citizens through its core services.  These services are the backbone of our city and without them, our city will cease to function effectively.  Many of our core services include things like our transportation networks, waste services, snow clearing, parks, and others.

I have been growing concerned over the past several years that our core services are being neglected in favour of a growing bureaucracy.  This includes big salaries for middle managers and lucrative consulting contracts.  This reduces our city’s ability to pay for the core services that Edmontonians rely on.

So let’s look at several examples to help illustrate these points I am making, then discuss solutions for our city.

Example 1: Can’t Afford To Cut The Grass

Many of us were puzzled back in June 2020 when our city decided not to cut the grass in order to “save money.”  I want to commend the people in this city that stood up and decided to take action. I’m sure some of our bureaucratic masters at city hall were not too pleased with Edmontonians coming together and cutting the grass themselves.  I say, bravo!

I’m sure some of our bureaucratic masters at city hall were not pleased with Edmontonians coming together and cutting the grass themselves.  I say, bravo!

Grass cutting is not a major expenditure of our city, but this highlights a greater issue: if we can’t afford to cut our grass, then how bad are things at City Hall?  Our annual landscaping budget is approximately $7.8m annually and I would estimate we didn’t save much money from this stunt.

You can view this story by Global news here.

Example 2: Excessive Management

Just so you are aware, our annual operating budget for the City of Edmonton is approximately $3.2 billion per year.

We spend around approximately $234.6 million per year on management. Since 2017, management positions grew from 1,183 to 1,440 total positions.  This represents a $63 million dollar increase as shown from a recent audit.  Just a note: the city uses the terminology FTE (full time equivalent) to describe a position within the city.

Here a highlight from that report which shows these numbers.

You can view the entire auditor’s report here.

Example 3: Excessive Consultants

A recent audit showed we spend around $136.8 million per year on consultants.  For a city of our size, this is a serious problem that seems to keep on growing.  From 2017 to 2019, consultants contracts grew by over 32%.

Consultants have become an equally growing and serious problem in regards to civic cashflow.  In another city audit, a sample of 25 consultancy contracts were looked at.  The scope of this audit included was how original contracts are increased through something called “change orders”.  In the private sector this is often referred to as “scope creep”. I have been concerned with scope creep for years as it reduces the value Edmontonians are receiving from our contractors.

If you haven’t already, please take a look at my IPMO policy and the billions being flushed down the drain with scope creep on capital projects by clicking here.

In 2016, the auditor conducted a wide range of audits on consultants and found something quite shocking. 44% of the audits completed contained change orders [scope creep] that were not properly authorized. You can view the 2016 audit here

44% of the audits contained change orders [scope creep] that were not properly authorized.

In 2021, we saw an update to this audit.  The previously used unauthorized term from 2016 was updated to unplanned in this most recent report.  So what does this report show? Well, in 2019 there were 251 change orders (ie. scope creep) as part of this audit.  153 of them were planned. 98 were unplanned.  This shows that 39% of change orders were still not properly planned for.  In conclusion, the problem still exists.

This shows that 39% of change orders were still not properly planned for.

The Solution

Here are my clear policy solutions for a $109 million dollar annual savings for our taxpayers.  Half of these savings ($54.5M) will go directly to taxpayers in the form of a 3.3% tax cut.  The remainder ($54.5M) will go to reducing the cuts to our frontline services and improving service quality.

  • $75 million dollar reduction in overall middle management costing
    • Reduction of senior managers to 2017 levels: from 186 to 167
    • Reduction of middle management to 2017 levels: from 1254 to 1016
  • $34 million dollar reduction in consultants
    • Reduction of consultants to 2017 levels; 32% reduction

Here is my rationale for these solutions:

I believe there is a great deal of independent information that solves many of these issues is already readily available.  All that is remaining is for someone to decide what to do about the data that is right in front of us. 

In an independent report, the excess of middle management has been highlighted as costing the City of Edmonton $75 million dollars per year.  This report also highlights suitable benchmarking for managers to frontline worker. 

The ratios they represent are between 1:10 and 1:20 based upon the requirement of that specific department. In the City Auditor’s report it is stated: “The lack of an established process and controls, specifically related to the use and approval of change orders made it challenging to assess the effectiveness of the City’s change order process in obtaining best value.”