Do it yourself or hire a contractor? That's usually the discussion around home renovations but it can also apply to City Hall and hiring lawyers.

As part of budget talks this year, city administration has been suggesting that too many contracts are going out the door without being checked by a lawyer, and too many city bylaws are not being enforced properly because there aren't enough people to argue them before the court. So, city administration is asking Moose Jaw City Council for funding to hire another position in the Clerk Solicitor's office.

Despite the more than $100,000 needed for the position, Mayor Fraser Tolmie said that the position could end up saving us money. City Manager Jim Puffalt agreed but said they can't quantify what ifs and maybes in the budget process.

"We are not reviewing contracts appropriately and we are sitting in a risk position because we are not doing things that we should be doing or are relying on external consultants to provide that service for us and I think those are important things," explained Puffalt. "There's a risk of not doing business and I think that's what we're trying to express here."

While Puffalt expressed the potential savings in the budget he disagreed when it was suggested that they could add the position without a reflected tax increase.

"I can't show exactly where that money may be. I can't and I won't speculate as to that." added Puffalt.

While members of administration couldn't promise exact savings, Assistant Solicitor Katelyn Soltys gave several examples of what the position might deal with. She told budget committee that because they couldn't get payment from one person leasing city land they had to spend $23,000 on outside legal help. Another time consuming issue is dangerous dog fines that some owners choose to fight.

"Those we typically farm out as well and they will be upwards of... the last one was $5500 and the one before that was $7500 on a dangerous dog prosecution that we typically get a $100 fine."

But she stressed the importance of being able to enforce the bylaws in place and suggested that you just can't ignore the laws because they're too costly to enforce if someone challenges them.

Council has tabled the budget request pending a further report on the potential costs savings associated with doing the work in house. Budget committee will meet again January 21st.

 

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