Savings at City Hall
The ongoing search for financial savings at City Hall is encouraging, but there is work left to do. Through conversations, emails, social media messages and phone calls, I am continuing to hear from citizens that they are concerned about potential tax increases and the financial situation of the City of Saskatoon. The people of Saskatoon are expecting us to make sure that their tax dollars are spent wisely and with the largest impact possible.
City Council recognizes that citizens want to see the City save money in ways that don’t simply cut services or raise fees for residents. It is important to find savings in ways that create efficiencies and deliver services more effectively.
For more than a decade, the City has explored and implemented new ways to improve services and increase savings, while also managing the growth pressures the City faces. The recently released Saskatoon Strides: 2016 Report on Service, Savings and Sustainability report highlights the progress the City made to drive service improvements, find savings for taxpayers and operate more sustainably.
Sometimes these examples get lost in the mix and I wanted to call attention to some of the work we have been doing over the years:
- By incorporating a more energy efficient design into the new police headquarters, we have seen $650,000 in operating cost savings in 2016 by reduced power and heating needs.
- We are able to repair 25% more sidewalks and roads for every dollar spent as a result of better project management, improved tendering processes and better incorporation of technology. This led to $2.3M in savings in our road surfacing program and $585,000 in micro-surfacing.
- The consolidation of City offices into the old Canada Post Office building has led to $500K annual savings in lease costs.
- Saskatoon Fire is optimizing fire hall locations, resulting in the need for one fewer fire hall than projected by moving Fire Hall #3. This saves $6M in capital costs and $3M annually for the costs of staffing and running a fire hall.
- By working with our unions and negotiating changes to our pension agreements, $68M in future liabilities has been saved.
In addition to the savings featured in the most latest Saskatoon Strides document, the recent 30 Day Challenge empowered staff to suggest avenues for increased savings, and many of the recommendations are around energy efficiencies, using technology more effectively and cutting internal red tape.
Given the City’s recent reduction in funding, it is important that the work of finding cost savings continues. It is also a priority of mine to get the basics right, and I believe that this is what the citizens of Saskatoon expect and deserve from the City.
For more information: