Politicians must rein in ‘salary mess’

Once again we taxpayers provided free meals, generous allowances and nice accommodation for our local politicians and senior staff at the recent Union of BC Municipalities meeting in Whistler. And once again the UBCM wasted a huge amount of time debating silly and irrelevant issues and took no action at all or debate on the most serious waste of taxpayer’s money – paying excessive salaries to senior staff.

More than half the UBCM resolutions this year were directed at the B.C. government to spend more of our money!

A recent B.C. government report given to the UBCM confirmed what we all knew – salaries for senior staff in local government are out of control and increased at twice the rate of similar jobs in the B.C. government and four times the rate of inflation over the past 10 years.

In the Cowichan Valley the CVRD’s chief bureaucrat takes home a pay and benefit package bigger than the B.C. premier and close to what a B.C. deputy minister gets who looks after thousands of employees, up to a $1 billion in spending and has way more accountability and responsibility.

The CVRD has more than 220 employees of which 55 make more than $75,000 in pay plus benefits and half of those make more than $100,000.

There is a total disconnect between these pay rates and local economy, inflation rates and taxpayers’ ability to pay. I witnessed staff presentations promoting their own wage increase recommendations to the CVRD board this month where board members were bamboozled about why staff don’t want to compare salaries to the private sector or taxpayers’ incomes. They prefer to cherry pick using pay rates of other local governments – all inflated compared to the real world.

CVRD staff negotiate pay rates for one level of employees that automatically increases their own pay by the same amount.

Has no one in local government ever heard the term “conflict of interest”?

We really need local politicians who are going to rein in this salary mess and start representing taxpayer’s interests and keep spending below growth and inflation.

W.E. (Bill) Dumont

Cobble Hill