City budget letters

I do feel a need to protest the lack of fiscal responsibility

While not an advocate of “civil disobedience,” I do feel a need to protest the lack of fiscal responsibility on the part of those at city hall that think they are empowered to spend as infinitely as they see fit ! I must live within a budget or face the consequences . Spend and tax is not a visionary program in modern times ! Spend wisely and live within your means is a recipe for a better future.

Doug Bratt

 

The Parable of the Responsible and the Irresponsible Sons:

An old man from Campbell River had two sons who worked at the Elk Falls mill.  When the mill closed, both sons got jobs that paid a lot less than when they were working at the mill.

The responsible son told his family that they were going to have to make some changes. Earning only half of what he earned before, there wasn’t going to be a trip to Disneyland this year, the family was going to have to make do with their five year old car, and the traditional pizza every Friday night was going to be replaced with a cheaper home cooked meal.  By budgeting carefully, the kids would continue with their piano lessons.

The irresponsible son just carried on as if he was still making big bucks at the mill.  Unlike his brother, he wasn’t going to deprive the family of making a pilgrimage to Disneyland, they would go ahead and buy a new car, and maybe a motorhome would be fun.  Maybe they would invite their cousins over for pizza after piano lessons.

But, because the irresponsible son didn’t have the money for the trip to Disneyland, the car, the motorhome or the pizzas, he asked his dad for more money.

Too bad for the irresponsible son, his old man felt the same way about living within one?s means as Mayor Jakeway.   Maybe the irresponsible son should ask the four irresponsible council members for more money ? They don’t mind asking the taxpayer for it!

Richard Franklin

 

I need some advice.

Unfortunately, I’m in a bit of a tight situation this year. I knew my household budget was going to shrink this year compared to previous years, but I’m still refusing to make any changes in my current lifestyle.  I struggled to make cuts, so I just continued to spend, but after a financial overview, I made a few minimal cuts.

I finally realized my $3,600 in overspending was out of control, but with a few cuts, like not planting a garden, and other minor adjustments, I managed to save $1420. However, this still left me with a $2,180 deficit.  Hey, do these numbers look familiar?  $3.6 million minus $1.42 million equals a $2.18 million deficit. Odd.

The example above is, of course, fictitious.  I actually know how to balance my finances over the year. My parents taught me at a young age to not spend beyond my means, and if you know in advance you’re going to be short in household income, then you spend less or make cuts.

In this city’s case, they lost a family member from their household, the Catalyst Mill at $1.8 million in annual income. Let’s apply the basic principles that my parents taught me – if you’re losing a percentage of your household income, maybe you should make more changes, and quit living beyond your means.

For many years, Campbell River residents have been spoiled with the level of services we have. Maybe it’s time to re-consider some of the levels of services that a city of just over 31,000 people requires?  No, let’s not do that. Maybe we could try marrying a rich partner? The odds of finding another Catalyst Mill to pay for our lifestyle? Not very good.  Wait, I got it. Let’s ask the rest of our family members to pitch in 13.6% more this year.

So my question to city council is, who would I ask to cover my $2,180 deficit if the above example was true?

I’m not trying to say that being on city council is an easy job, but come on! I could have easily made a decision like a 13.6 per cent increase in taxes.   The common man in Campbell River deserves a better budget than this. You need to get a little more creative than this.  City Council is too scared to cut services or make tough decisions, but making  a decision that makes it tough on the common man comes easy…..Thanks for the increase.  Good thing you’re not in control of my household budget, I’d be in debt by now if  the city was running my books.

George Amygdaletsis

 

Alistair, in the Wednesday edition of your paper you wrote a piece that appeared to present a balanced view of the issues you have observed in recent weeks as the city budget laundry was being aired.  In that piece you asked for some examples of inappropriate use of city funds.  I suggest that such an example is on page 11 of the same paper.  The matter of repairing the sidewalk erosion caused by the March 12 storm is just that.

The mere suggestion that we need to conduct a $60,000 study to figure out what to do speaks volumes about capacity in city hall – that’s enough money to pay a $75/hr consultant to work on the task for 20 weeks!  Surely there must be somebody on the payroll of 35 managers who knows how to order dump trucks and concrete? The whole matter could have been resolved for a fraction of that proposed for “studying the solution”.  The solution is in the picture. Put the rip-rap back, use bigger rip-rap if available, pour concrete, put top soil down, and plant grass seed.  There are plenty of able bodied and capable contractors in town that could have handled that job – it’s maintenance.

The banter in the media in recent weeks regarding the city budget would be amusing if you lived somewhere else.  I’m always surprised how satisfied some councillors seem to be with things.  I’ve written commentaries before expressing my contempt to no avail (I don’t really expect much in reality).  Yet again I find myself asking why are we willing to pay more for less?

Living in our present residence since 2003 we have watched our property taxes increase by $1,100 since then, that’s a 48 per cent increase.  Add another $196 to that and it will by 57 per cent.  We are supposed to find comfort in this because it’s less than some other place.  What I want to know is….how is less measured?  Campbell River taxes are less than Dawson Creek and more than Sooke – so what? It makes no difference to me because I am here.  These arguments for increases are smoke screens for the real problem.  How is a 57 per cent increase in taxes in nine years sustainable?

I had lengthy discussions with a willing councillor whose time I appreciate and opinions I do not.  Regardless, some good points were made.  The following is taken from that discussion:

“Council takes a very keen interest in the affairs of the city, but we do not get involved in the day-to-day operations of the city.  You have a VIHA manager, a realtor, a travel agent, a landscaper, a lawyer, and a radio announcer on council.  It would be utter folly for a council to get involved in the day-to-day operations.”

I must agree with this statement, it would be utter folly.

The complacency and refusal to deal with real problems facing us now is an affront to all citizens of Campbell River.

Cuts to services and tax increases do not have to be the only choice.  It is quite evident that city hall is not capable of managing taxpayer funds responsibly – the mayor’s example about the $200,000 computer is spot on – nobody in their right mind would run a business like that, why is it okay for city hall to throw our money around like Halloween candy?  The spending limit available to city hall should be lowered to $5,000 by vendor. Council should request yearend financial statements for 2008 though to 2011 and compare those figures to actual expenditure, anything not spent in 2011 should be gone from the budget and require council approval to reinstate.

City hall has clearly demonstrated that it is not capable of practicing restraint an exercising fiscal prudence in difficult economic times.

A city is a business and should be run as such.  Our city is run more like a garage sale.

Mike Landers