Monday, March 02, 2015

City Council Meeting March 2/15

Conspicuously Absent From The Agenda

You may recall at the February16 City Council meeting there was an agenda item that would have given first three readings to the 2015 - 2019 Financial Plan Bylaw.

This is the bylaw that would see Nanaimo taxpayers being levied a 1% tax increase rather than the 1.8% increase originally put forward by staff. This was the motion that was defeated by four councillors who feel they have not done their best to see if further tax reductions can be found. The motion had been supported by four councillors who seem to think another 11% tax hike is a justifiable increase.

If memory serves, this item was to come back before council for consideration at the Feb. 23 COW meeting which was cancelled, and also again at the March 2 Council meeting. This item is not on the agenda for the March 2 council meeting.

The Feb. 16 meeting clearly showed a divided council which is currently deadlocked on the matter of this years budget. Councillors Hong, Yaochim, Bestwick and Kipp feel they should be able to find further economies and seem convinced there is tax fatigue in the community. While Mayor McKay and councillors Brennan, Pratt and Thorpe seem of the opinion the community can afford another tax increase of 11% over the next five years.

At the Feb. 16 meeting Councillor Kipp put forward a motion that would have instructed staff to reduce the overall budget by 2%. This motion was also defeated on a tie vote.

Since this item is not back on the agenda for March 2 it is possible that even behind closed doors this council has not been able to bridge the gag between the 'tax and spend' councillors and the 'hold the line on taxes' councillors.

This lowly scribe has suggested that council simply instruct the city manager to prepare a budget with a 2% tax decrease with no service cuts. After all controlling spending and managing efficiencies is what our high priced staff are supposed to be able to do. Aren't they?

Anytime it is suggested to the city manager to reduce taxes the standard reply is to ask council what services they wish to cut to achieve the reduction. I would submit, that is not the job of city council, but rather that is the job of the city manager. Perhaps one economy could be found by freezing all exempt staff salaries for the next five years.

Not putting the $4.9 million in surplus funds under the city managers bed is another way to lessen the burden on weary taxpayers.


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