Letter: Budget answers bring more questions

Public has the right to know the cost of council's decisions

I read with interest the curious postscript to the Jan. 29 Oak Bay News letter, “Where are the financial gatekeepers?”

I also have been trying for some time to get council to provide answers to my straightforward questions on these tax issues, however have come up empty after several attempts – with anther pending.

The CAO stated the financial information provided in letters is not accurate. However, other than adding the part-time staff count, the CAO has not provided any figures supporting her claim.

What is the actual HR salary range? What is the total on-going tax burden for residents for this full-time position, and why was it necessary for so few staff? For that matter, what changed for the CAO to also need an expensive executive assistant?

Council made these staffing decisions in April 2015 with no discussion (council minutes confirm this). As for next June 2016 Annual Report for 2015, this will only show the partial HR amount paid for the month or so worked in 2015, not the full salary to be paid in 2016, scaled back or not. Also, the 42 staff paid over $75,000 is identified by name only, not job title.

When I wrote to council my questions were straightforward. I was hoping for actual expenditure and some plausible answers.

The public has a right to be provided with this information, particularly now as taxpayers are being faced with more and more costs.

Whether we have 400 or 500 staff, when part-time are counted or future salary deals are negotiated, does not alter the fact that I have not noticed any efficiencies of scale in council’s budget decisions.

In this difficult economic climate and with the predicted tax increases on the horizon, a blank check approach is not warranted.

Patricia Coulter

Oak Bay