Councillor wants Edmonton to address what he believes is inefficient city spending

WATCH ABOVE: Is the city spending Edmonton's taxpayer dollars wisely? One councillor doesn't think so and he says everyone should be frustrated. Kendra Slugoski reports.

With belt-tightening needed by Edmonton City Council to weather coming fiscal headwinds, Councillor Aaron Paquette wants to take a closer look at whether the city can’t manage its resources more efficiently.

Paquette spoke to Global News on Thursday about his notice of motion that he hopes will be discussed at council next week. The councillor said he believes there is a concerning level of spending by the city on consulting, and he also wants to look back at city auditor recommendations on spending.

“Right now, we are contracting out a lot of services to consultants and I’m wondering, should we be doing that, or can we actually be doing that work better in house and saving a few dollars?” he asked.

“Six-hundred-million-dollars in consulting fees for five years is frankly flabbergasting.”

READ MORE: Edmonton’s 4-year budget described as ‘tight’ as council begins deliberations

Paquette said he wants to find out why the city hasn’t been able to rein in what be believes is inefficient spending since a city audit first raised concerns a decade ago. City Auditor David Wiun recently met with Paquette to discuss his concerns.

“I spoke to the auditor and there are still concerns,” Paquette said. “We are entering a little bit of a tighter budget period over the next few years, and if we can cut down on that consulting fee, if there’s ways to mitigate that, then we absolutely should.”

Councillor Mike Nickel echoed some of Paquette’s frustration with spending and indicated he believes it points to a larger issue.

“There just seems to be this disconnect, this discombobulation, in administration and council,” Nickel said on Thursday. “I think people are beginning to ask, ‘Where is the value for my taxes now?’

“Times are tight — not just tight, they’re tough — and when they see this kind of retail-level waste, it just drives them batty.”

READ MORE: Edmonton economy woes wallop city hall revenue: report

Paquette also pointed to the potential for improving infrastructure maintenance. He said sometimes roads are torn up twice in a matter of just a few years for different reasons and he wonders if sometimes various issues on the same road could be dealt with all at once to spare money and incovenience for Edmontonians.

Nickel pointed to a number of flip-flops by the city that cost money, like Wednesday’s decision to reinstall ashtrays on Whyte Avenue that were removed just months earlier.

“It makes common sense to leave ashtrays out… I don’t get it,” he said.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton flip-flops on Whyte Avenue ashtrays

Watch below: (From October 2018) New bylaw rules are meant to clear the air when it comes to all forms of smoking. But will the changes lead to more litter on streets and sidewalks in Edmonton? Vinesh Pratap takes a look.

“I don’t know why they pulled them out to begin with,” Nickel added. “It’s not just costing taxpayers money, it’s also costing… credibility of council.

“It seems like common sense has left the building and you wonder where the adults are in the room… when you have all this stuff that’s more about process than the actual result.”

Paquette’s motion is expected to be discussed by council on Tuesday.

–With files from Global News’ Kendra Slugoski and 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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