Dan Rankin special to the Gazette
As soon as January of next year, the City of Stratford may contract out the administration of school crossing guards.
That was one of the main topics of conversation at the finance and labour relations committee meeting last night as the 2014 operating budgets for a number of municipal departments came up for review.
“We believe it will provide a better service for school crossings,” said director of corporate services Andre Morin. “We also believe that it will create some efficiencies within the clerk’s department for 2014.”
There are currently 18 school crossings in the city which require a total of 19 guards working at intersections to assist children as they cross the street. The city now employs 18 full time crossing guards and six casual employees who step in whenever full time guards are unable to attend their crossings.
In the 2012-2013 school year, casual crossing guards were needed to cover intersections 420 times in 188 school days, up from 220 times the previous year. That means city staff and the clerk’s office spent an increased amount of time coordinating coverage, as well as training and interviewing new guards, Morin said.
“Contracting out or remaining as a city service doesn’t necessarily affect the dollar values in the crossing guard budget,” said Morin. “What it will affect is the efficiencies game or time in the clerk’s department.”
Regardless of who is responsible for the administration of crossing guards in the city in 2014, the current guards will retain their jobs, he added.
A management report recommended the city contract crossing guards services to the Commissionaires of Great Lakes.
“This is the same company we contracted for the parking meters and it’s worked very well for us,” said CAO Ron Shaw.
According to Morin, a price quote they have received from the firm “came in at very little of a surplus” cost to the city.
“We know they do this work in other communities,” he said. “We know who they are, and it basically would enhance the service we currently are providing with the parking enforcement.”
Before the motion to adopt the crossing guard budget as presented passed unanimously, Coun. Paul Nickel offered an alternative option for consideration.
“If I look at the $154,000 (crossing guard) expenditure for about 10 elementary schools in Stratford, that’s about $15,000 per elementary school,” he said. “Why wouldn’t we put it out to school councils, who are always in the fundraising business? They could have their parents probably do some of the crossing guard duty.”
The former principal said when he was at St. Ambrose, a lot of parents used to volunteer as crossing guards.
“Maybe times have changed, but it might be an opportunity for a discussion before we hire the Commissionaires to do it. It’s a good opportunity for an elementary school to get $15-$20,000 in their school council budget.”
Other department operating budgets being examined last night included the library, human resources, fire, information technology services, the clerk’s office, parking, cemetery, public and parallel transit, and other municipal services. Each budget was adopted as presented.
A public meeting is scheduled for Nov. 25 to discuss water, sewage and waste rates. Those operating budgets are also due to be discussed at the next budget meeting on Nov. 19.
2014 operating budgets adopted Nov. 5 (net after revenues + expenditures + adjustments):
Library - $1,980,614 2.0 % increase
Human Resources - $561,094 5.56 % increase
Fire – $6,718,604 3.39 % increase
Information technology – $787,221 4.21 % increase
Clerk Office – $460,430 6.61 % increase
Parking - -$235,000(profit) 1.55 % decrease
Crossing Guards - $154,317 1.82 % increase
Other Municipal Services- $205,699 6.99 % increase
Parks – $1,881,275 1.15 % increase
Rec. Programs – $344,950 2.16 % increase
Rec. Facilities – $1,470,933 2.13 % increase
Recreation (programs/facilities) - $1,815,883 2.13 % increase
Cemetery – $163,965 2.37 % increase
City Transit – $1,253,331 2.39 % increase
Parallel Transit - $334,911 - 2.02 % increase