Should you do the work yourself or hire a contractor? It's likely a question every homeowner has asked at some point but now the City of Moose Jaw is having the conversation about our infrastructure work.
Councillor Chris Warren sparked the conversation with a motion Monday night, asking city administration for a full report and analysis, suggesting that by doing some of the work ourselves, residents could get better service.
"An increased capacity to responding to water breaks will prove to be an immediate benefit. Whether the water break happens during the summer or the winter, the city can mobilize and attend to water breaks quicker and more effectively than we can now," said Warren during the debate Monday evening. "By taking on a percentage of the capital renewal program, internal crews and resources would gain experience and expertise year after year, lending itself to improved efficiencies, lower costs and a more skilled and trained workforce."
The city already uses a combination of their own employees and contractors for some projects such as snow removal and road repair, but when it comes to actual infrastructure work like cast iron replacement or sewer work, a lot of the projects are tendered out to specialized contractors. Even the design work is often farmed out, something that could be done in-house if the right employees were on staff.
"Engineering costs on a project can get up to 10-12% but when you're doing it in-house you're able to do it at about 2-3% of the project costs so there are certainly some cost savings," explained City Manager Jim Puffalt.
"It's a great opportunity to find different ways of increasing the work that we are able to do and certainly, we'd have to build a business case to support this."
Council approved the motion to carry out the report that will come back to council, but no timeline was established. Being budget related, it could be presented during budget talks this fall and winter.