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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Council Budget

The 2012 budget is being discussed and there have been a few good presentations to date. Anyone wishing to speak to it can do so without signing up to appear as a delegation and will be able to do so till around May. Funny story in the Bulletin today,, about council hosting some special budget meetings.

All three of the meetings they mention are during working hours, could the unemployment rate in Nanaimo be higher than the 7.5% stated? I'm thinking that because the times were set when they were Council & Staff feel the majority of folk in Nanaimo are unemployed and hence can make these meetings:). No worries though because the discussion will be going on for a few more months and folk can attend regular as well as FPCOW meetings if they wish to learn more.

Lest those of you out there that rent do not feel tax City tax increases do not affect you then think again. With a possible 4% tax increase to homeowners as well as the 5% Water and 6.14% Garbage tax increases you can rest assured that these costs will be passed on to renters.

Also at the meeting last night Council announced the outcome of recent negotiations with CUPE 401 city workers. In each of the next three years CUPE workers will be receiving a 2% pay increase; gee do you think council giving themselves a raise of 8% each of the next three years played a part in this:)?

Lastly of note; a motion was proposed to have In Camera meetings moved to the pm instead of am. During question period I asked, because during the election many a candidate had espoused transparency and openness, if council would consider no longer holding those ‘In Camera’ meetings of which they have a choice of whether or not to hold ‘In Camera’ under section 90(1) of the Community Charter. If you are just dying to hear their responses, recomended, check out the link above and go to question period :).

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One last kick at the council raise can

Been lax again with posting:(

This was my spiel to council on December 19th, the first televised council meeting of the new council. Sadly I feel all hope is lost with regards to council recinding their raise.

Here are links to the Agenda December 19, 2011 Video December 19, 2011

I appeared as a delegation, near the end of the meeting, to speak about the pay raise City council received, and did so despite the fact I could have spoken at the beginning of the agenda as a Delegations Pertaining to the 2012-2016 Financial Plan. My reason for doing so was to separate the issue of council pay out from the financial plan speakers in order that it not get lost in the discussion. I could also have appeared as a delegation at last Mondays 'Finance Policy of the Committee of the Whole (FPCOW)' meeting but chose not to because these meetings are not televised or video taped and so not many people would have been aware of what I was presenting.

Many of us think FPCOW meetings should be televised and taped. My guess is they do not do so in part because these meetings are the ideal place to slip things onto the agenda that they do not wish people to be aware of. In fact it was at the September 19th meeting that council gave themselves, actually th new council, the raise. Very little even made it into the papers about the raise; I did write a letter to the editor at the time and also brought it up during the election.

Anyway the jist of this is that I think council are quite happy to keep their raise and my presentation did little but to hopefully inform more of the public.

Here is a copy of my presentation:

December 19, 2011

When looked at in comparison to the overall budget for Nanaimo of $160,370,000; current
salaries for Mayor and council only equate to .18% and the proposed increase in
salary this year would simply equate to .015%. One could say that of more concern should be Nanaimo’s growing debt load and the over 2.5 million we will be paying in interest on that debt in 2012. This, however, is about mayor & council wage increases.

While the wage increase in monetary terms and looked at as a percent of the overall
budget is not a significant burden it is still a burden on the taxpayer. When one looks at the possible 4% tax increase to homeowners as well as the 5% Water and 6.14% Garbage tax increases
adding the wage increase could be seen as adding insult to injury.

Looked at in comparison to the wages earned by the citizens of Nanaimo, City councillors are already making more than 45% of those citizens and those 6 councillors receiving RDN salaries are making more than 60%. The Mayor, currently earning $79,000 and in the top 19% of wage earners, will over the 3 year life of these 8% yearly increases be earning over $100,000, ultimately moving into the top 4% of wage earners.

I don’t want to get in a huge debate about city councils position being part time. The reality is, based on information from city staffs report of September 14th; councillors are currently required to attend an average of 106 meetings per year. If one looks at these meetings taking an average of 3 hours councils commitment is 6 hours per week. Yes many will put in additional hours, some
more than others, but the reality is this is a part time position.

I would encourage Mayor & Council to, if there really is a need for a raise at all, go back to basing council and mayor raises in pay on cost of living. I hazard to guess that even this will be higher than what will be proposed to city workers when negotiating their contracts and it definitely will be higher than most citizens’ will see if they see a raise at all.

While constantly striving to reach a median of comparable cities councils will continue to see that median increase and will continually, in striving to meet the median, be asking for exorbitant wage increases. To stop this from happening I would encourage council, at the next Union of BC Municipalities meeting, to put forward a motion that increase of city council salaries across the province be limited to cost of living increases only.