The city’s elected officials are anticipated to become a lot more frugal in their relinquishment of money to consultants.
© Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Coun. Don Cody raised the issue of city use of consultants, during Monday’s city council meeting -- a service he believes the city might be paying too much for.
During Monday’s city council meeting, Coun. Don Cody, who has served as the central figure in council’s addressing of consultant costs, clarified that he’s not opposed to consultants.
“I think we all know that we need consultants from time,” he said.
“I’m sure the administration means well by getting consultants, but sometimes I think we can do a wee bit less consulting and more in-house,” he said. “I’m not upset, but I’m always querying the fact that we’re spending that amount of money.”
Since Jan. 1, 2010, the city engineering department has spent $7.15 million on consultants -- an expense Cody picked apart the details of during Monday’s meeting.
One expense that Coun. Lee Atkinson drew special attention to was about $216,500 in consultant fees related to the city’s Green Industrial Park, set up at the entranceway to the municipal airport.
So far, the city has failed to sell any lots in the park.
“Maybe the money would be better spent on tangible things instead of consultants,” Atkinson said, relaying a commonly heard saying about consultants -- that “You hire a consultant to tell you thing you already know.”
With the true cost of consultants now in the public domain, Cody said that he hopes to see special care and attention brought to the issue during future budget discussions.
Of the money the city has spent on consultants since Jan. 1 2010, about 77.8 per cent has been covered by grants awarded by the federal and provincial levels of government.
All of the consultant work done at the city’s Green Industrial Park has been covered by such grants, but Cody continually reminds council and the public that “There’s only one taxpayer.”
The following are some of the other noteworthy decisions city council made during Monday’s meeting.
• Insurance companies can expect a more aggressive City of Prince Albert, Dionne said during Monday’s meeting.
Earlier this year, a motorist struck a fire hydrant on the corner of Central Avenue and 14th Street, Dionne relayed.
“He ended up breaking the pipe deeper down even though he hit they hydrant,” Dionne explained. “We were very aggressive with the insurance company, which we’re going to be.
The city was recently awarded $46,000 for related damages, Dionne said, using this success as a notice that similar action will be taken in the future.
• Bring your own cell phone, city staff and elected officials will be encouraged from now on.
By having employees use their own cell phones instead of a company-issued phone, the city is expected to save a minimum of $9,600 per year, and as much as $34,320, depending on the level of compliance.
Employees will be reimbursed $20 for cell phones and $40 for smart phones, per month.
Currently, the city’s average monthly cost for a cell phone is $40, while a smart phone is about $80.
• Suzy Cue’s is set to be no more, with council approving the building’s demolition.
Located at 18 15th St. E., the dilapidated billiards hall, hotel and liquor store will become a parking lot for the neighbouring Venice House Restaurant.
“Thank you,” Mayor Greg Dionne said during Monday’s meeting, reiterating his previously stated approval in seeing the building demolished.
• A tax exemption for the building at 969 First Ave. E. and 80 10th St. E. was denied, with council unanimously backing an administration report that cited a lack of financial statements by Northern Prairie Arts and Cultural Studio Inc. as reason for denial.