Following the revelation that the city paid Mercury Associates $131,900 for a report on last year’s snow removal fiasco, three councillors want to be better apprised of the city hiring consultants.
“What we’re looking for is to have a yearly documentation, clearly defined, on what we spent on consultants through the year,” said Coun. Frank Everitt who, along with Coun. Brian Skakun, and Coun. Garth Frizzell put forward a notice of motion.
How much the city spends on consultants is an interesting question, but not one that is easy to get a handle on. However, I’ll try to ‘ballpark’ it, as they say.
I went through the city’s 2013 financial statements, which are the latest figures available and looked for companies that are readily identifiable as consultants, either through their name or through an Internet search of their name.
It’s tough to sort out though, and council touched on this on Monday. Is a company, particularly an engineering company, doing consulting work or actually engineering something? For example, an engineering consultant’s report on the feasibility of developing the Airport Logistics Park would be consultant work, actually designing the park would be straight contract work. Plus there are likely other companies doing consultancy work that aren’t readily identifiable as consultants.
So it’s tough to nail down. I decided to include engineers in my list for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they do a lot of consultancy work and, secondly, the city’s engineering department took the biggest hit when this council first started laying off city staff in 2012.
Here’s the list:
Aeocomm Canada, which provides architects, engineers, designers, planners, scientists and management professionals – $156,536.42.
All North Consultants – $43,811.25.
Amec Earth and Environmental, engineering and project management consultants – $144,915.63.
DWB Consulting Services, engineering, environmental and forestry consultants – $127,631.03.
Ecora Resource Group Ltd, engineering consultants – $27,599.25.
GeoNorth Engineering Ltd. – $107,179.83.
L&M Engineering – $199,428.26.
McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. – $154,568.68.
Opus Knight Dayton Knight Consultants – $209,533.79.
Read Jones Christoffersen, consulting engineers – $ 57,545.57.
Right Management Consultants – $53,977.
Sylvis Environmental Inc., environmental engineering consultants – $39,591.90.
TBD Consultants, natural resource management consultants – $276,849.81.
Waterhouse Environmental Services, with particular expertise in coagulation chemistry – $58,464.
Grand total – $1,657,632.
While getting a report every three months on the money spent on consultants is a good tool for council, and good information for the public to peruse, the real question has to be whether the city is getting value for the money spent.
We’ve all heard the stories about consultants’ reports costing lots of money and then being left to gather dust on a shelf somewhere. I think that’s what needs to be held in check.
If a consultant provides a good report that is actually used by the city, then it’s probably a good expenditure.