Continuing city staff increases

Nov 26, 2019

Dear Editor,

City bureaucrats have determined that we geese won’t hiss much at another annual five per cent property tax increase. This has been true since I first examined the expansion of city government in 2005 and it remains so today.   The numbers are alarming.  

From 2012 -2017 city employees earning more than $75,000 rose from 195 to 222, while average salaries increased from $96,042 to $124,897.  That’s a 24 per cent increase over five years and a big reason for wages and salaries being 41 per centof the city budget.  Government left unchecked will always grow, because it serves those working within it. 

Our fire department, for example, has 41 firefighters who work under 39 Lieutenants, Captains, Deputy Chiefs, Asst. Chiefs, Chiefs and Inspectors. New positions benefit management because ‘expanded responsibilities’ demand better remuneration.  Wage increases for front line staff mean increases for management too, as salary differentials must be maintained.

Meanwhile, the "weak link" in municipal wage negotiations results in the highest salaries becoming the floor for future negotiations among similar-sized municipalities.  As city salaries increased by 24 per ccent, the average income for Nanaimo residents was about one third of that of city staff. 

Not surprisingly, city bureaucrats are recommending their usual 5.2 per cent compounding annual increase or typically, another $158 in property taxes to support at least five “new staff positions.” The proposed increase doesn’t include their recommendation that city council consider yet another five “new staff positions.” 

For city council and bureaucrats who frequently hector the rest of us about ‘sustainability’, there seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how a struggling private sector cannot sustain an ever expanding and expensive public sector.

Randy O'Donnell