Taxes Going Up 23%
Fees Going Up 18%
Service Levels Going Up 0%
Family Incomes Going Up ?%
How Is This Sustainable?
Year after year after year city hall will roll out their five year financial plan which consistently includes increases well beyond the consumer price index and will tell taxpayers the increases are unavoidable unless we are willing to accept fewer services.
Typically we will be challenged by the Mayor to tell council what services we are willing to give up in order to hold the line on taxes. It will be suggested that we will have to compromise our own safety by reducing such things as police and fire protection. It is never suggested that a complete core review might bring to light other items costing considerable money which have nothing to do with safety which taxpayers may be willing to forgo.
One such example in recent years was the decision to spend $16,000,000 on a new staff office instead of upgrading the existing one for $4,000,000. Or better yet, let the Canadian Building Code guide our decisions and leave the building as it was and let city staff shoot the dice, like the rest of us.
Throwing away a $4,000,000.00 asset by putting a seismic upgrading restriction on this asset, which is NOT required under the Canadian building code is another example, of the careless disregard seemingly embraced by council at the advice of staff for tax dollars.
With not so much as a whimper, or asking the paying public what they thought, city hall acquiesced to VIHA and agreed to spend $82,000,000.00 to treat water that has proven pristine for 150 years!
Another example of looking for taxpayer input and approval are the employee wage and benefit increases of recent years, which again, outstrip the consumer price index and certainly do not reflect what has been happening in the 'real world' since 2008.
What seems lost on this city council and staff, is that the Nanaimo taxpayer does not have limitless resources and sooner or later the crap is going to hit the fan, with pure chaos following.
Past Financial Plans Have Not Been Sustainable
Once upon a time, industrial and commercial taxes were thought to be sustainable, the current economic reality has proven that assumption to be wrong.
Industrial and commercial taxes are being adjusted in tune to the current economic reality but the only other adjustment is to increase the consumer tax burden to service the ever increasing upward spiral of spending, which neither city council nor city staff seem able to deal with.
What is Sustainable?
Well, if you are working for the city, particularly in management hauling down $150,000/yr. plus, your idea of sustainable is likely quite different than that of the 2100 families who had to rely on a hamper this last Christmas. Or if your combined household income is less than a third of what is being paid at city hall.
Nanaimo firefighters might also have a different idea of what is sustainable considering their ever increasing demands on the public purse, which they also seem to think has no bottom.
When approximately $6.00 out of every $8.00 of taxes pays for wages at city hall, that is before one piece of sewer or water pipe goes into the ground only someone breathing extremely rarefied air (comes in ivory towers) would argue this can go on indefinitely. Perhaps they only think it has to go on until they can collect one of those gold plated pensions they will soon qualify for. Another taxpayer funded perk, few could only dream about.