Monday, January 23, 2012

Nanaimo Financial Plan

Any More Surprises??

About this time every year city staff and city council present the Nanaimo taxpayers with a 'draft' five year financial plan. Up until the final plan is adopted in May the public is invited to offer input directly at city council meetings.

Right about now a common refrain coming from city councilors and city staff goes something like: "we are doing our very best to hold the line on city taxes, but taxpayers must realize that it is they who are demanding the high level of services and they have to be funded by taxes", the average taxpayer is then invited to make suggestions as to which of these valued services they would like to see cut. Of course no one wants the basics like water, sewer, garbage pick up, fire protection or police protection reduced and council would like you to believe those are your only options.

They never mention that over 60% of every tax dollar collected in Nanaimo is used to pay staff wages and benefits. They also never say that sometimes, hidden within the draft financial plan are planned expenditures they don't want the general public to know about until after the fact.
For example last year at this time, the draft financial plan that came before the public made no mention of the the fact that $16 million was earmarked to build a new Annex (shiny new office for city staff), an amount that would equal the planned tax increase for 5 years.

Had city council asked the Nanaimo taxpayer if they wanted to build a new Annex or see their taxes remain the same for the next five years, we may still have decided to build the Annex, or we may not have a need to raise our taxes for the next 4 - 5 years. However, we will never know, as the last city council and city staff had no intention of letting the Nanaimo taxpayer know how they intended to spend YOUR money.

Only time will tell if this new financial plan contains any similar 'surprises' which will only be revealed after another of city council's famous in-camera meetings.


1 comment:

  1. You should run for city council in the next election. I'm not being sarcastic. You are the type of person I would like to see on city council.
    John Moore


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