Letter: Council must get a handle on expenses

Significant property tax increases far exceed inflation

I read the Mayor’s Looking Ahead in 2016 in the Oak Bay News Jan. 8. He says council’s objectives are to ensure the municipality is well managed but I thought Oak Bay was already well managed when he was elected.

We have basically had the same population for years now so our service levels should have remained constant. Our staff have managed very well in the past and the existing staff salary increases do not account for the big jumps year after year in our property taxes. So what job responsibilities have council added to improve our management?

The newly created top-level expensive administrative staff positions are to assist the existing management.

Perhaps the mayor and chief executive officer needed an executive assistant. Perhaps lots of other additional management ongoing help was also needed but surely the public should have been provided with a detailed account of what changed to warrant such high tax expenditures.

I also notice that if this was not enough, a number of expensive consultants are also to be hired who are also to help us manage better.

It is a documented fact (many studies have shown) that in the past several years the public sector salaries have increased dramatically, all out of proportion, to private sector wages and far above the inflation rate. Today, on average, public sector wages are 25 to 35 per cent higher than the private sector.

The reality is inflation in B.C. is currently at 1.7 per cent. Council has just approved a provisional increase of almost five per cent, about the same as last year.  This year’s increase of course is compounded onto last year’s increase, so do the math.

In case council has not noticed, the Canadian economy is not doing all that well and we are carrying a lot of personal debt. There are many other undefined costs on the horizon  locally and in the CRD. This also will impact our taxes substantially. There must be a moratorium on any new staff and consultant increases until council can get a handle on our taxes. We cannot keep up these ludicrous high management costs along with everything else or in a few years we will be in the same financial situation that Greece is in.

Another huge concern of mine is what percent of our property taxes goes for the pensions of retired staff. There are cities in North America that have had to file bankruptcy due to unfounded liability of their pension plans.

Patricia Coulter

Oak Bay