AUGUST NEWSLETTER
CRD board failing taxpayers in its lack of due diligence 

When you buy a car – a serious financial decision for most families – you talk to the salesman and friends, kick the tires, and read the auto edition of Consumers Reports Magazine.It’s no different if you’re a CRD director supporting Victoria’s bid on hosting the Commonwealth Games 2022, a billion-and-a-half-dollar mega-sports decision with major impacts on your community. Normally you would talk to bid committee chair David Black, the larger community, and get a staff report.

At its next meeting the CRD board must ask for a comprehensive staff report with background, analysis and recommendations. That’s obligatory for a critical decision of this magnitude likely involving long-term tax hikes.

Staff reports provide a different and perhaps sobering point of view prior to buying into a billion-dollar mega project. It would prove useful defending the CRD decision on Games 2022.

In our view it’s also incumbent on the CAO and CRD staff to advise the board of the ramifications of such a major decision. We also encourage the CRD use its in-house financial resources to thoroughly exam the Games 2022 bid.

Using the summer months for a staff report would help municipal councils and the community to make an evidence-based decision on whether they want to be involved in these mega-games. The deadline for submission for the Victoria bid has been pushed back to Sept. 30, so there’s time.

Ask yourself, after any Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games will you feel like a pelican, no matter which way you look you will see a very large bill?

Police salaries shrouded in secrecy in BC 

BC finds it necessary to withhold individual police officer compensation, while many other provinces require such disclosures.

Saskatoon and Regina list every police officer along with their total compensation annually. Winnipeg lists the same information, but uses badge numbers rather than names (presumably to protect identities). Ontario police departments are sometimes listed on their city websites as well as on a master database. Police departments in Halifax and Winnipeg also list names and compensation.

What could possibly be different here?

Every municipality in BC is required to make public and provide to the province a list of employees making more than $75,000 annually, but has exempted police personnel from this requirement.

The only information publicly available is total salary data on individual police websites, but there’s no remuneration data listed for police personnel in BC.

Police have a difficult job, but is that reason enough to keep income data secret, particularly when policing eats up a significant portion of municipal budgets? In 2017 policing accounts to about a third of the property taxes levied by the City of Victoria.

Police pay has been in the headlines since Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner was suspended with pay in April 2016 until his resignation in May this year. The media put his pay at $205,000 a year plus unknown benefits (for rank and file member benefits are budgeted at 24 per cent of salary).

By comparison, police chief pay around the country includes Saskatoon at $257,433 (2015), Regina at $256,530 (2015), Winnipeg at $219,324 (2015), Windsor $214,496 (2016), and Halifax at $205,003 (2016). VicPd responsibilities are largely an urban core of 86,000 people in Victoria and about 17,500 in Esquimalt.

It was reported July 7 that VicPd ratified a three-year collective agreement that gives CUPE staff a 2.5, 2.5 and 3.5 per cent hike ending in 2018. By the end of the contract, a first class constable will earn $44.79 an hour after five years. Typically wage benefits such as pension and insurance are costed at 24 per cent of wages.

BACKGROUND:
Victoria police wage hikes raise eyebrows, Times Colonist, July 7, 2017 http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-police-wage-hikes-raise-eyebrows-1.20966295  
BC Financial Information Act  –  http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/96140_01

BC Financial Information Act Regulationshttp://www.fin.gov.bc.ca/ocg/fmb/FIA/FIA_Regulation.pdf

Municipal police services serving a population of 100,000 or more, Statistics Canada, 2015 – http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2016001/article/14323/tbl/tbl03-eng.htm

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Coquitlam MLA Selina Robinson has been named B.C.’s new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Robinson, re-elected in Coquitlam-Maillairdville was formerly critic for mental health and addictions….As if you need reminding, the Bank of Canada raised its interest rate to 0.75% from 0.5%, the first such hike in seven years. Aside from higher borrowing rates for capital projects and less money for operations, what is the implication for the municipal taxpayer?…. Following a FOI from Grumpy Taxpayer$, the province is still refusing to release the long-awaited Capital Integrated Shared Services and Governance Initiative. The date for release has been pushed back to Aug. 23. Don’t hold your breath….

WHAT’S COMING UP

To make it easier for our supporters we’ve added a PayPal button at the bottom of this page that accepts all major credit cards. Thank you for your generous support. Also join us Tuesday, Sept. 5 from 12 to 2 pm for lunch and meeting at location TBA. Partners and interested supporters are welcome to sit in, RSVP to grumpytaxpayers@telus.net