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I wouldn’t mind an increase in my water bill…

… such as the 9 per cent hike proposed by council’s executive committee yesterday, if Toronto Water was not in the habit of frittering the money away. Back in September, the city’s auditor general pointed out that, in addition to overtime scams of various kinds, Toronto Water’s emergency repair contracts were so badly managed that cost overruns had become the department’s new normal. Now comes another audit of Toronto Water, which goes before audit committee later this week. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

According to the latest audit, Toronto Water staff is in the habit of splitting purchase orders so they don’t have to seek out competitive bids. Some invoices they pay out have so little detail on them it’s impossible to verify whether the city got what it paid for. Technical staff is doing lots of purchasing and accounting work, which they shouldn’t do; meanwhile, no one is keeping an eye on the parts and equipment inventories. On one $220,000 contract the city was overcharged $18,000 just for travel expenses, in part because no supervisor had any knowledge of the contract terms. (You can find the audit committee’s September and November agendas here; the auditor’s reports are buried therein.) Howard Moscoe says we can all pay our higher water bill by cutting down on booze consumption, but he and the rest of the executive committee ought to take a little water with their wine too.

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