Porcine to Lillooet

In relation to “Porcine Lapel”, concerning the initiatives to reign in the perceived generosity of the pensions of Members of Parliament, Neil Remington Abramson commented as follows, with reference to the article that follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

Imagine the administrator of Lillooet, pop. 2322, making $111,000. And Vancouver city spending going up 50% in 11 years, while population rose only 15%.

It’s not just pensions. It’s wages too. Cities are possibly the worst offenders. Sam Sullivan was torched as Vancouver mayor, holding out against big pay raises in a months long Vancouver city workers strike, a few years ago. Now he is a newly-elected Liberal MLA in Christy Clark’s government.

I suppose most Vancouverites would think professors making more than the Lillooet administrator would be vastly overpaid as well. Meanwhile, I would be pleased to run Translink for considerably less than the $383k currently being paid. Heck, I’d do it for half price, or even a third, as a public service, and have a lot of fun doing it. The line starts here:

Cities need to take close look at spending habits, before raising taxes
Barbara Yaffe
Vancouver Sun
July 23, 2013

Cities in B.C. are spending too much on their wages and benefits, and should do some serious nipping and tucking before tapping taxpayers for additional cash.

That’s the view of both the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the public advocacy group Integrity B.C.

“Our research shows (municipal) spending is increasing by as much as three to eight times the rate of population growth in Canada’s largest cities,” says CFIB executive vice-president Laura Jones.

She notes that municipal officials are forever claiming they need more cash and broader powers of taxation, but “our report shows the real problem is overspending.”

Data collected by the organization reveals that between 2000 and 2011, population growth in Vancouver was 15 per cent, but inflation-adjusted spending ballooned by 50 per cent.

The spending increases were driven mainly by public-sector wages and benefits, which consume the lion’s share of any municipality’s operating costs.

The CFIB contends pay packets are more than a third higher for municipal workers when compared to those doing similar jobs in the private sector.

For its part, Victoria-based Integrity B.C. issued a commentary earlier this month, titled “Sticker Shock over City Hall Payouts”.

The group’s director, Dermod Travis, compiled a list of municipal officials receiving plummy salaries and contrasted their payouts to the median family income earned by British Columbians ($66,970).

Travis took his numbers from published salary information and Statistics Canada data, and noted the B.C. payouts in some cases exceed salaries paid in Ontario and Alberta.

For example, Port Coquitlam pays its chief administrator $209,415 — more than the $150,825 paid for the same job category in the larger Ontario community of Halton Hills.

Travis asks why Vancouver’s city manager is paid around $330,000 when her counterpart in Calgary — with a population nearly twice that of the City of Vancouver — receives $324,000.

Vancouver’s financial services manager receives $250,000; the chief librarian $171,582; its parks board manager $217,000. The city’s police chief earns $311,562. TransLink’s CEO gets paid $382,955 — considerably more than the $282,700 earned by the general manager of the Toronto Transit Commission.

Even in tiny Lillooet, the chief administrative officer is paid $111,000 to preside over the district’s 2,322 people. Sechelt pays its chief administrative officer nearly $142,000, even though the district has only 9,200 residents.

Such numbers are astounding. And while these payouts for top earners — taken together — probably don’t reflect a large percentage of total municipal spending, they do pack a powerful symbolic punch and give unions every reason to push the envelope on behalf of their own municipally-employed members.

These are good white-collar jobs, with great working conditions and a whole lot of job security. Why do they pay so well?

Would these folks all head for Calgary if their pay packets were made more realistic?

The public is starting to notice this civic gravy train. And, as a result, they won’t be inclined to tolerate municipal tax hikes or special levies to raise additional revenue — like the road-pricing scheme Vancouver’s transit authority has recently proposed.

That scheme seeks to charge drivers for using various routes or bridges as a way of paying for new transit infrastructure, as though the taxes they are already forking over aren’t meant to cover such things.

Vancouver increased its property taxes by 2.84 per cent in 2012 and by 1.36 per cent in 2013.

It is the same story over and over again at all levels of government: Those in charge of the henhouse always take greatest care when feathering their own nests.

Neil commented further, as follows (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):

Piggies in a blanket” is a food, right? Little fat sausages baked in dough.. High cholesterol, really bad for you, with no identifiable food value? It’s a metaphor for these people.

About brucelarochelle

This entry was posted in Government Fiscal Issues, Municipal Fiscal Issues. Bookmark the permalink.

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