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Regina: The union representing outside city workers wants to know why the city council’s 2009 proposed budget doesn’t accurately reflect the city’s extensive use of outside contractors to perform work normally done by civic employees. That’s one of the questions CUPE 21 – which represents about 1,000 permanent and casual employees – will ask city council at tonight’s budget consultation meeting.

In its brief to council, CUPE 21 notes the 2009 proposed budget shows the city budgeted $1.7 million for contracted services in 2008, but spent $6.1 million. There is no explanation why the city overspent the budget by 358 per cent.

The union also believes the amount of contracted services reported in the 2008 budget doesn’t accurately reflect what was spent. “Documents obtained by CUPE 21 show that in the public works division alone, the city had annual or continuing contracts valued at $22.5 million and new contracts valued at $13 million for a total of $35.5 million,” says union spokesperson Grey Moyer.

The city’s 2009 budget allocation for contracted services of $1.7 million (the same amount as 2008) also seems unrealistic as the parks and open space department anticipates spending up to $1.4 million on contracted services, detailed as an appendix to the CUPE 21 brief.

Moyer says residents have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent, especially since contracting-out city services tends to be much more expensive. He cited winter road maintenance as one example. “CUPE 21 members used to do all the winter road maintenance for the city. It cost about $80 an hour for city workers to operate the grader. But now that the city has contracted-out most of the work, the city is paying a contractor about $177 per hour plus $2,000 a month to rent the grader. It doesn’t make good business sense.”

The CUPE 21 brief identifies other concerns with the 2009 proposed budget, including the city’s decision to shift an even higher percentage of taxes onto home owners, increase user fees for services and reduce the number of permanent front-line staff.

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For more information contact: Greg Moyer at 541-8447              
Or go to: www.cupe.ca/municipalities