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City proposes hiring new communications staff to eliminate consultants

Cost-conscious city councillors endorsed the hiring of three new full-time communications staff to reduce the city’s reliance on consultants and to save money.

Council’s environment, utilities and corporate services committee approved a report on Monday that pitches adding three new employees to city hall’s communications division.

The move is expected to result in $28,200 in annual savings due to an expected decline in the amount of work contracted out to external consultants, the report says.

The three new positions would bring the total number of employees in the city’s communications division to 20.

“I think this is great news we’re going to save money,” Coun. Troy Davies said, adding that the chance to develop expertise at city hall is an added bonus.

The report proposes adding two new graphic designers and a community engagement consultant in 2018.

The number of communications employees has grown to 17 from five since 2012, although eight of those positions represent full-time positions that were either merged or transferred. Four are new full-time employees.

Communications became a division at the end of 2013. Prior to that, the five employees covered communications and media relations. There are now two media relations staff in addition to those in the communications division.

“Over the past number of years, we’ve increased our focus on communications significantly,” said Jeff Jorgenson, the city’s acting general manager of corporate performance.

Coun. Mairin Loewen said since she was first elected in 2011, communications has been one of the areas that has received the most attention. She added the response by city hall administration has been “very impressive.”

The report notes the City of Regina employs 15 communications staff, while the numbers are higher in larger cities like Edmonton (111.8) and Calgary (65.7).

Saskatoon city council would have to approve any increase in 2018 employees during year-end budget deliberations.

ptank@postmedia.com

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