No faith in council priority setting exercise

North Cowichan – As I reviewed the agenda for the May 26 priority setting meeting, I could only conclude that the process is an exercise in futility. Councillor Siebring motioned for this review based on the fact our taxes have been rising at ridiculous rates. He wanted to limit tax hikes to the rate of inflation. Mayor Lefebure wanted tax hikes around two per cent; he only missed his target by 61 per cent.

The meeting has turned into Mayor Lefebure and CAO David Devana’s agenda; it is all about their priorities and what the bureaucracy wants not about what the community needs and can afford. They will be telling

council about their agenda and the mission. It was supposed to be the other way around!

A priority setting process involves identifying core municipal functions such as policing, fire, roads, sewers, water, waste management and some parks and rec. After council determines the proper and efficient level of core services, and if there is any money left over, then the other discretionary items should be determined in order of importance. Each item has to be rated against a criteria of whether it is a want of a special interest group or a real need of the community as a whole. No item should be put on the list if it is a “download” from senior government.

All programs have to be looked at, including the wasteful spending of the CVRD for such items as the Island Rail debacle, and the waste going on in Economic Development.

Council has to look at the CVRD distribution of their general government cost centre. Because their legal bills are charged to that cost centre, MNC taxpayers are picking up most of the cost of the Shawnigan Lake soil dumping. If that was happening in MNC, there would be no reciprocal help from the CVRD for us.

It is time for some serious management skill to be applied to our high tax bill. It is sorely missing!

Don Swiatlowski North Cowichan

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