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KPMG identifies possible cuts, eliminations to city services

A new comprehensive report released Monday identifies an inventory of services the City of Toronto could reduce or eliminate, including outsourcing more garbage collection, lowering the recycling target rate and reducing snow plowing and snow removal on residential streets.

The review, conducted by KPMG on behalf of the city, examined four core services: water, solid-waste, transportation and technical services.

It was ordered by Mayor Rob Ford shortly after he was elected last fall and the advice, released Monday, has at least one councillor calling it “absurd.” The city faces a 2012 operating budget shortfall of $774 million.

At a technical briefing Monday, city manager  Joe Pennachetti said the cuts could shave $10 million to $15 million from the Public Works Committee’s budget of $1.085 billion.

 KMPG said 96 per cent of services provided by the Public Works Committee are “core municipal services,” meaning they’re mandatory.

The consulting firm said 30 per cent  of the services studied are being provided at slightly above standard levels, which it said “offers some opportunities for cost reduction by lowering the service level.”

 “There’s still lots of deliberations in council and in the community as to whether or not we can live without these service levels,” Coun. Shelley Carroll told CityNews.ca.

Under Solid Waste Management Services, KMPG said the city should consider further privatization of collection services.

“Introducing and expanding the contracting of solid waste collection is the most significant cost reduction opportunity,” the report said.

Toronto also has a very “aggressive” recycling target of 70 per cent, which could be reduced, KPMG said, adding the city’s current diversion rate is 47 per cent.

“Despite the challenges of finding landfill sites, landfill is already cheaper than diversion, and the gap will grow as the rate of diversion increases.”

The report also recommended replacing the Toxic Taxi and the Community Environment Days programs.

Within Transportation Services, KPMG suggested shifting the mix of in-house and outsourced service delivery, as well as eliminating the windrow clearing program so homeowners will have to clear their own lane ways.

Coun. Adam Vaughan told CityNews described the KPMG report as “absurd”
“I can save money too,” he said. “We won’t have a police force. Would anyone follow that advice? Would anyone even pay me to give that advice? Apparently the mayor will. It’s absurd. This guy will have spent tens and tens of millions in six months to do nothing.”

KPMG also recommended reducing the frequency of mechanical and/or manual sweeping and reducing snow plowing and snow removal standards on residential streets.

The Bicycle Plan and Program is “more extensive than warranted by bicycle volumes,” so reducing bicycle infrastructure “would be consistent with volumes.” But the report noted that many cities are expanding bicycle infrastructure.

Within Toronto Water, KPMG said the city should consider eliminating fluoridation of city water. But it said the potential savings are low at five per cent and that “It is very likely that dental health of Toronto residents would decline.”

The report can be viewed here.

With files from Avery Haines