City payroll hits 1,400

Red Deer city council approved 21 new full-time equivalent positions to work in Transit, RCMP, Public Works and Parks with the passing of the 2014 municipal operating budget last week.

Red Deer city council approved 21 new full-time equivalent positions to work in Transit, RCMP, Public Works and Parks with the passing of the 2014 municipal operating budget last week.

This brings the tally to about 1,351 staffers in 2014, compared to 1,330 in 2013.

Factoring in the extra staff for ice and snow control, the total may increase by another five to 10 employees.

The actual number on the city’s payroll is 1,400. That includes staff who may work a few hours of part-time or half-time.

City manager Craig Curtis said the number of staff employed at the city is in line with comparable-sized cities that are growing. But he said the number of staff in any municipality depends on the services provided in the community and the projects that are contracted out.

The City of Lethbridge, for example, has 1,376 full-time equivalent employees.

“We probably have a larger park system than more comparable cities,” said Curtis. “That makes Community Services a pretty large area but the community believes that is one of our major assets.”

Curtis said the hiring of contractors relates to how the city operates. The city hires 95 per cent of its contractors for construction projects and roads. Curtis said Red Deer has one of the fewest number of engineers on staff compared to similar-sized municipalities.

The city has engineers in four departments, as well as four managers who are engineers. The Engineering Department has 10 engineers dealing with things like traffic, design and development. The other departments with engineers are Public Works (two), Environmental Services (four) and Electric Light and Power (six).

“(Consultants) are subject matter experts that actually save us money,” said Curtis.

The consultants contracted to the city currently are working on large projects such as road repair and design, the North Highway Connector ring road, the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant and the water treatment plant.

“That probably makes up 80 to 90 per cent of our contracting dollars,” said Curtis. “The other studies you hear about, $5,000 here, $20,000 here, are largely irrelevant in terms of the total consultant dollars that we expend.”

He did not have available the total amount spent on consultants.

During 2014 budget talks, Coun. Tanya Handley raised concerns over the hiring of consultants and the number of staff already on the payroll.

Staffing accounts for 40 per cent or $122 million on a $305-million operational budget.

Curtis said this comes up often because there is a misunderstanding about the work that consultants do at the city. Curtis said Red Deer is no different than any other municipality in any province.

“We are understaffed in some areas and use consultants to perform that specialized task,” said Curtis. “If you need somebody to do a transportation study on flow of transportation on an arterial road and the design on an intersection, you hire a specialized engineering firm that does that.”

As well, Curtis said Red Deer is a growing city that may need more staff compared to similar-sized municipalities that are not dealing with the challenges of growth.

“Growth is huge in this city,” said Curtis. “Somebody has to design that infrastructure and it certainly isn’t our internal staff.”

Recreation, Parks and Culture is the largest city department with 263 staffers, followed by the RCMP with 221 and Emergency Services with 192 employees. The city’s Communications Department has seven full-time equivalents on the payroll.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Alberta government to partially backstop new $2 billion dollar bitumen upgrader

CALGARY — The Alberta government is providing a $440 million loan guarantee… Continue reading

Local artists are in the running for Alberta Country Music Awards, held Sunday in Red Deer

Tickets are available to the ceremony at the Sheraton hotel

RCMP seeking suspect in school bus collision and car jacking

Two children suffered minor injuries in collision on Tuesday near Springbrook around 8 a.m.

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

B.C. animators land Oscar nominations

‘Animal Behaviour’ by Vancouver’s David Fine and Alison Snowden among several Canadians on the short list

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read