Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strategic Plan - Wish List Raising Taxes?

Strategic Plan Questions

The current strategic planning exercise being conducted in the city of Nanaimo as a precursor to an indepth core services review of course is too new to judge it's usefulness.

On the one hand it is clearly something any community needs to establish if it has any hope of setting spending priorities and as noted by the City Manager without one it is impossible to structure an organization. That said, unless the plan is actually used as a guiding principle for all levels of governance it just becomes another voluminous, well written, nice looking dust collector.

The current community workshops being conducted across the city will surely get input from people with a wide variety of interests. For example, young people may have a new ice sheet or swimming pool near the top of their list, while those with an interest in local arts and culture will want to see things such as the Port Theatre continue to be publicly supported etc.

Regardless of how long the laundry list of city funded city improvements grows, unless it is founded on the principle of sound fiscal policy it will be a pointless exercise. Sound fiscal policy is something that is sadly lacking in local governance, as evidenced by the continuing upward spiral in taxation, while at the same time no increase in service levels. In fact, in spite of ever increasing taxes, the very basis of a livable community are being ignored, as evidenced by the underfunding of water, sewer and roads. A problem this council and city staff seem willing to keep pushing off until at least 2013, in spite of identifying the problem in 2010.

It Will Take Some Real Leadership From City Council

Unless this strategic plan is destined to become yet another shiny new door stop, this city council is going to have to embrace the principles it brings forth (presuming they are valid) and from those guiding recommendations actually craft real policy which they DIRECT city staff to implement.

Having watched city council closely for the past four years, I will be most pleasantly amazed if this council actually does start to take on the role of leading the city rather than simply putting the rubber stamp to whatever direction staff thinks we should go.

You need look no further than that $12 million, shiny new office, rising up behind city hall if you need a testimony of just how city staff can get this council to do whatever they please.


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