Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ratepayers Association Wants Your Input

Taxes and Transparency at Nanaimo City Hall
In Nanaimo the old axiom ‘death and taxes’ should be ‘ever-increasing taxes and council secrecy’.

While Mayor Ruttan and his councils have paid lip-service to holding the line on taxes and openness and transparency, the record does not support that claim.

Recent efforts to properly direct staff to make in-camera minutes public are simply a joke. A glaring example is not knowing which councillors supported the $16 million new staff office. Neither do we know advice to councillors preceding the yearlong Colliery Dam saga.

Can voters make an informed vote without knowing how councillors vote on contentious matters? In-camera proceedings have their place, once the need for secrecy has passed; they need to be made public. Does council fear public scrutiny?

Ever-increasing taxes are as much a given with Mayor Ruttan’s council as ever-increasing wages and benefits at city hall. In 2008 the total wages being paid to employees earning more than $75,000/yr. was $10,886,263.00 by 2012 that total has increased to $18,728,112.00/yr. This does not include benefits such as pension contributions paid by the Nanaimo taxpayer. The total for 2013 is not yet available but will likely be in the $20,000,000.00 range.

In years past we would have seen a draft budget in January and until its adoption in May to review. This year we will not see the budget until April. This in-depth review process seems questionable in the last year of a council’s term and would likely make more sense in the first year of a council’s term.

The only thing we know with certainty is that city taxes will increase by at least 4.2% this year, water rates increase 7.5%, sewer increases 5% and garbage increases 2.2%. It should be noted this does not include increases for the RDN, School District or NRGH. 

City Council seems of the opinion that these ever-increasing taxes and fees are both sustainable and affordable. The Nanaimo Ratepayers Association has an online survey we invite you to fill out, so we may find out if the Nanaimo taxpayer agrees.

You can fill out the Nanaimo Ratepayers survey HERE.

Residents wanting more information about the Nanaimo Ratepayers Association can email ratepayers@yahoo.ca.


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