Coun. Mike Nickel has asked if Epcor is charging the city too much when it comes to installing lights on Edmonton’s streets. At first blush the answer is yes. An example, is when the signal lights along 99 street were taken out and replaced by cross walk lights just south of City Hall.
“There was a difference, definitely,” said Gord Cebryk from traffic operations with the city, “Going forward we’ve shared that learning with Epcor.”
“If you look at it, when they identify this, in report speak, saying we have opportunities to save ten to thirty percent, it kind of lends itself to the notion that perhaps we’re being over charged,” said Nickel.
The ward 11 councillor blames the city and Epcor getting too comfortable with each other, and a lack of private sector competition. “When you get these long term relationships you have to monitor them,” he said.
“If you want to talk about issues that we have across the corporation, procurement is one of them. We’re coming up to an audit in a couple of days that talks about a total failure, not just about procurement but oversight. Look at the two bridges, look at the Metro Line, there’s a recurring theme here that we need to be watching our contractors more closely.”
“We have to go back to, what is the bench mark in the private sector? Then we’ll see what Epcor’s giving us. If they’re charging more then the question has to be asked, why are you charging more? And are we getting value for the commensurate for the price? It’s a pretty simple equation. Business is business.”
The committee was told that it’s not always an apples to apples comparison. While a developer might be able to install lights in a new project less expensively, there is follow up service that’s part of the contract.
“We have a pretty high level of service in terms of the overall operation and maintenance component. That has an impact on the overall cost of the entire agreement. So we’re going to look at that,” said Cebryk.
Nickel is hoping in a future report that any contracts or invoicing will compartmentalize capital and operating costs.
You can read the report here by going to item 7.1