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Constrained and reduced budget dollars are the driving force behind these Service Level Reviews

Public Works & Infrastructure Committee Review of Engineering & Construction Services; Policy, Planning, Finance & Administration; Solid Waste Management Services; Toronto Water; Transportation Services

Dear Councillor Minnan-Wong, and Members of the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee:

RE:     PW26.16 – 2014 Service Level Review

The pre-budget Service Level Review exercise does not provide any true indication of what staffing levels should be, and what service levels are needed, in communities across Toronto. Constrained and reduced budget dollars are the driving force behind these Reviews.

In the case of Engineering & Construction Services, there seems to be a big difference between the number of approved positions in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, the approved number of positions was 626.1 and the actual year end number of positions was 497.0 – leaving 129.1 positions vacant. The base number of positions going into 2013 is listed at 554 in the Service Level Review. More information should be provided on these staffing numbers in order to assess what the staffing levels really are. Also, there is not enough comparative data in the Service Level Review regarding the Key Service Levels to be able to evaluate the status of the ongoing work and projects.

One subject that is not included in the Report is the fact that Engineering & Construction Services have been incrementally contracting out work. We would recommend that this Division do what Fleet Services is currently doing: conducting an external review of its operations, maintenance processes and contracted services, to ensure that operations are effective, properly structured and that appropriate controls exist.

Adequate staffing levels at Toronto Water are also in question. The number of approved positions in 2012 was 1,689.8, but by the end of 2012 the actual number of positions filled was 1,487.0 – that leaves 202.8 positions vacant for a vacancy percentage level of 12.0%. The Review states that the number of approved positions in 2013 is 1,727 but there is no indication of the actual number of positions filled in 2013. How can service levels be projected when staffing levels are unknown? This seems to be a futile exercise.

The Operating Variance Report earlier this month noted that Transportation Services “is projecting net under-spending of $10.866 million or 5.3% primarily due to lower than budgeted salary and benefit costs arising from vacancies that will not be filled, as well as savings in winter maintenance program costs and various road repair and traffic management contracts.”  Transportation Services, and other Divisions reporting to Standing Committees for this Service Level Review process, need to be more transparent about gapping targets and variances in their Divisional budgets.

In 2012 the actual number of approved positions in Transportation Services was 1,086.3, at year end. The actual number of positions filled was 907.0 – leaving 179.3 vacant positions. The Service Level Review states that there are 1,086 dedicated civil servants in the Transportation Services Division.  What is the actual number of positions filled in 2013?

How can service levels be projected to the end of 2013 and into 2014 when there are no accurate figures available for the actual number of employees working in the Divisions? What we have in the Service Level Review are the Budget-approved numbers but no indication or verification that the full staff complements were ever achieved in 2013.

City Council often approves a certain complement of staff, yet many positions remain unfilled.  This is exactly what appears to be happening as the 2014 budget process begins.

Yours truly,

Tim Maguire, President

 

 

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