Sudbury City Hall

Contractors on roads aren't necessarily saving Sudbury money, councillor says

Sudbury is facing a budget overrun of about $2 million on its winter road maintenance, and a city councillor says it's time to look at the financial impact of bringing snow removal and road repair services back in-house.

Councillor points to $700K 'standby fee' for snow removal contractors

The city reports that winter roads operations for 2017 resulted in an over expenditure of approximately $1.9 million. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

Sudbury is facing a budget overrun of about $2 million on its winter road maintenance, and a city councillor says it's time to look at the financial impact of bringing snow removal and road repair services back in-house.

Coun. Fern Cormier made a motion at Monday's operations committee meeting directing staff to reconsider how much work is contracted out, and how much is done by city workers.

"I think maybe the time is right to do at least a financial analysis to look at what we are spending on the contract side and what are we getting for that, versus what would it look like if that money were allocated internally," Cormier said.

"What would it allow our infrastructure department, writ large, to get accomplished? I'm not saying it's the silver bullet, but I think it's worth looking at."

Ward 10 city councillor Fern Cormier (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Almost half of department's overspending in 2017 comes through contracted services

Randy Halverson, the city's director of linear infrastructure services, did not immediately have the breakdown of the amount the city spends on contractors, but he did say of the $2 million overage, $1 million was in the contractors' column.

"This includes equipment as well as plow time," Halverson said.

Cormier said it wasn't just one item in this winter's report that motivated him to make the motion. He called it a "cumulative effect." One item did stand out for him, however.

He pointed out one expenditure marked in the report labelled "standby (contractor.)"

"When I see $700,000 and the word standby?," Cormier said. "I get it, on the big budget you have, that's perhaps slippage. But for the average citizen out there, I'm going- 'holy moly that's a lot of bucks, that's a lot of hours.'"

This report from the city's roads department provides the financial results of the 2017 winter roads operations up to and including the month of December 2017. (City of Greater Sudbury)

Cormier also suggested the department break down the costs of contracting out these services versus the costs to provide the service in-house.

His motion met with support from other councillors on the committee, but City Roads Manager Tony Cecutti said the earliest any changes to how the city balances contractor services with in-house capabilities would be in June of 2019.

Cormier's motion was approved by the operations committee, and in the coming weeks will go before council for final approval.