A trend that Torontonians will have to start getting used to now is scathing Auditor report after Auditor report about wasteful spending across every single City Department and Agency in Toronto. I for one, get extremely upset every time I see even one penny of my tax dollars being wasted as nobody, not the Government, not the elitists, not one person (except maybe my wife) understands better how I should spend my money than myself...though, our friends on the left would beg to differ.
But to my surprise this morning, upon reading the news I see former Budget Chief Shelley Carroll actually putting forth an effort to actually find some "gravy" in the City of Toronto. My goodness, could it possibly be progress? Well, we all know that Giorgio Mammoliti supposedly found his way when he dropped out of the Mayoral race and backed Rob Ford, so maybe it is possible... Who knows. (Don't ever tell me I don't give credit when credit is due...)
I hate to go after the Police (hold your laughter), but I do whenever I feel it is necessary. Today the Toronto Star released a story that talked about "Paid Duty" for the Toronto Police (when Police are paid ridiculously high rates to stand by construction sites on their off-duty hours) and how the City of Toronto is one of the Toronto Police's biggest customers when it comes to that "Paid Duty".
Now, I understand when private companies are doing construction and it may impact traffic so they are required to have these "Paid Duty" Police Officers stand by their site for the safety of everyone involved. This is the cost of doing business for these private companies, though I don't agree that the Police should be paid $65 per hour, a rate that is reserved for Program Managers and Junior Executives in my industry (Information Technology), people who manage multi-million dollar programs at major corporations and oversee literally hundreds of employees (granted they can make much more than that). But that is a different story all together.
My problem is that while private companies should be charged to have Police stand by their sites (whenever having a pylon there instead won't suffice), there is no way in hell that the same employer who employs these Police Officers (The City of Toronto) should be charged the same rate as private companies when they require the same. It just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
Apparently, the City of Toronto via its various Departments and Agencies (including the TCHC) has paid out millions of dollars in these exorbitantly high fees to basically have Toronto Police do the jobs that they are paid to do, which is serve and protect the safety of the citizens of Toronto.
Here's the story from the Toronto Star:
Paid duty policing costs taxpayers millions: audit report
Unnecessarily strict rules for employing paid duty police officers are costing Toronto taxpayers as much as $2 million each year, a city audit has found.
The official findings won’t be released for weeks, but a draft copy obtained by the Star recommends reviewing some “debatable” permit criteria, particularly for road work.
“When construction takes place close to a signalized intersection, there are certainly situations where a paid duty officer would be needed to direct traffic,” the report says. “However, there are also situations where the use of warning signs, barriers and other devices … would be sufficient.”
The auditor’s findings mirror those of a December 2009 Star investigation that found private companies, taxpayers and community groups were forced to waste millions of dollars hiring paid duty officers for jobs that could be done by crossing guards or even pylons.
“If you want to find ‘gravy,’ look there,” former city budget chief Shelley Carroll has said of the paid duty program.
After the Star stories appeared, the Toronto Police Services Board asked the city auditor to review the program.
The auditor’s report also found that, “compared with other large police services, Toronto’s yearly paid duty hours and costs are disproportionately high.”
In 2009, Toronto police worked 40,919 paid duty assignments, earning $65 an hour — nearly twice the rate of a regular constable. In York, officers earn $57 an hour, Ottawa $58, Montreal $42 (time and half their hourly rate), and Peel $64.
That year, the Toronto police paid-duty program took in $29 million. Of that amount, the city’s own divisions, agencies, boards, commissions and corporations were responsible for $7.8 million, just over one-quarter of the total.
City of Toronto entities, including transportation services, Toronto Water, the TTC and Toronto Hydro, accounted for 9 per cent of all paid-duty assignments. The Ontario government was responsible for 12 per cent.
Construction companies (19 per cent) and utility companies (18 per cent) were the two largest clients in 2009.
In one of the audit’s more contentious findings, it notes there is insufficient oversight of internal paid duty policies.
Working excessive paid duty shifts can interfere with an officer’s regular duties. Officers are not permitted to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period, and paid duty shifts are not permitted to overlap with regular shifts.
While the auditor found the vast majority of officers followed the rules, the review uncovered some egregious violations.
In one case, an officer was twice late for court because of overlapping assignments. The individual was paid for a court appearance as well as the paid duty shift.
Paid duty by the numbers
Figures from a draft report of the auditor’s findings on the paid duty police program:
$29 million: Income from police paid-duty fees in 2009
27%: Percentage of those fees paid by the city’s own agencies, boards, commissions and corporations
56%: Percentage of all paid duty assignments devoted to traffic control, which the auditor found may be excessive
$2 million: How much the city could save by making criteria for permits more effective
40,919: The number of paid duty assignments Toronto officers worked in 2009
$65: The hourly rate Toronto officers make on paid duty, nearly double a typical constable’s rate
$7.8 Million was "Paid Duty" money paid by the City of Toronto to use City of Toronto Police for City of Toronto work? In business, that is like the #1 mistake that corporations can make, and a mistake that CEOs are fired over. As an IT Consultant, I'm sent to all kinds of companies to help them improve their IT Department and to improve their business overall. Now, if my own Consulting Firm requires some assistance in certain areas of the business, are they going to allow me to charge themselves the same high rate that I am charging to external companies? No way in hell! No price higher than cost would be acceptable, as that is what would make sense...
I know Super Mayor Rob Ford truly believes in the Toronto Police and backs them with every ounce of his being. But this is one case where the taxpayer should be put first, and I truly hope that he sees it this way as well.
Only time will tell, I guess...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/msvg/4645779162/sizes/l/ by MSVG on flickr