Friday, November 28, 2014

NEW COUNCIL INITIATIVES

WISH LIST FOR COUNCIL'S FIRST STEPS

We all know that politicians have a reputation for saying whatever they think might get them elected, and then turn off the hearing aide once safely ensconced in the seat of power.

As a fellow candidate during the most recent election I think I can safely say, that those elected would agree on the following courses of action during their term in office. I think the order I have assembled the actions is a sound way to approach things in order to achieve their stated goals.

GOVERNANCE REVIEW RECOMMENDATIONS - the recommendations that would effectively limit and stifle public input during open Council Meetings needs to find its way into the trash can.

LEADERCAST INVESTIGATION - I believe this is one of the solemn promises made by our Mayor- elect Bill McKay. It would be consistent with what he and Councillors Kipp and Bestwick attempted to bring about during the previous council. This is something that was never resolved to public satisfaction and another example of the previous Mayor and Councils desire to keep as much out of the public eye as possible. Getting this taken care of from the get-go will go miles to establishing the credibility of Mayor-elect and this council.

CORE SERVICES REVIEW -  or Program and Services Review, or Taxpayer Benefits Review, or whatever else you choose to call it. This was the mantra of Councillor Jim Kipp throughout this past council's term and sadly, the majority of council either didn't know the purpose of such a review or they were heavily influenced by the union strength on Council, which only see these reviews as 'witch hunts' to quote Councillor Brennan.

This review is absolutely essential if this city is ever going to be put on a even keel. The review MUST be done by other than city hall staff who simply are not capable of bringing a fresh, objective approach to the whole process. If this Mayor and Council can 'get it together' and agree on how to proceed, hopefully it will be done before we head into the 2016 budget process. Few things are likely to change for the 2015 budget period, except to find where to find some extra money to fund those last few vote-buying exercises of the outgoing council.

ZERO BASED BUDGETING - This should be easy to initiate, the only difficulty will come when our new Council is faced with a budget clearly showing that all the money being spent now, is absolutely necessary.

DEAL WITH COST OF WAGES AND BENEFITS AT CITY HALL - The single biggest cost centre at city hall is the cost of wages and benefits to our well-paid (and some may say overpaid) city managers and union employees. The amount of money paid for wages and benefits at city hall is over 80% of every tax dollar collected by the city. Note, this is tax dollars (over $92,000,000) and does not include user fees, dcc's, transfer payments etc.
Exempt staff contracts need reviewing and an end has to be put to these unbelievable severance and retirement packages we keep having to pay for.

I'm not sure how my 'wish list' dovetails with our new Mayor's agenda as outlined on his election website, but will be interested to see the impact a competent, focused and functional council will have on this city we all love to call home.

I am sure I speak for all of us in wishing them all the very best as they undertake the daunting task of guiding Nanaimo over the next four years into a period that finally fulfills all of the latent promise and potential that seems to have eluded us so far.


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