Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Our New Nanaimo City Council

Will They Ever Get Past The Stalemate?

A stalemate is described by Merriam-Webster as: "a contest, dispute, competition, etc., in which neither side can gain an advantage or win."

That would seem an apt description of what we are currently witnessing with our newly elected city council and their inability to come to a consensus as to how to proceed with the city budget for this year.

At first blush it would seem that Mayor McKay and Councillors Brennan, Pratt and Thorpe are content with the .8% reduction in the budgeted increase for this year. As a matter of fact, all except Mayor McKay have expressed their concern for reducing spending at all.

Councillors Bestwick, Kipp, Hong and Yoachim however, seem to think their jobs as councillors are based on input they received during the recent election compelling them to attempt to find further reductions in city spending.

You would think this is hardly an insurmountable obstacle, and given that the budget does not have to receive final adoption until May 15th it would seem that time is on the side of those wishing to hold the line on taxes.

In the COW meeting of Feb. 23 which was cancelled, council was asked to deal with $2.8 million in surplus allocation from 2014 taxes. These surplus funds, which represents over-taxation from 2014 could be applied to this years tax revenue which effectively would eliminate the need for any tax increases this year.

One of the reasons these surpluses are popular with both council and city staff is the ability for large amounts of cash being available to spend without any public input. The new city hall annex is a prime example which allowed council to approve the expending of $13 million without having to seek taxpayer approval. That money was also spent on a building for which they never went to public tender.

Given the deadlocked position of this council vis a vis this years budget, it will be interesting to see the performance when they try and agree on how to go about a core review later this year.

It is hard to believe we are only a little over three months into a four year mandate with this council.


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