Privatize municipal public works

The municipality and city would only write 12 cheques per year for public works maintenance

Privatize municipal public works

When the next municipal elections come in 2022, the time has come that the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan have a new slate of candidates that are going to make a major change in ways of saving taxpayer dollars.

Every municipal election results with no major changes, only some new council members, and councils do the same as past councils. Former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm made a major change in a way to save taxpayer dollars. He eliminated the B.C. Department of Highways maintenance division, but retained the management personnel. Management would give the work order schedule to the hired contractor. The result was to lay off all hourly highway maintenance staff and hire a contractor to maintain B.C. highways. At the time, the laid off employees were welcome to apply for jobs working for the new contractors. Doing this the taxpayers did not have a payroll to pay, did not have to buy fuel, vehicle insurance, new equipment, mechanical repairs, tires, to name a few. The contractor would bid at various B.C. highways maintenance locations and sign a contract for a term renewable by bidding process when the term date was up. The lowest bid would be awarded the contract. Main Road Contracting was a company formed by former laid off B.C. government highway employees.

The same could be done with the public works department in the Municipality of North Cowichan and the City of Duncan. Hire a contractor by the bidding process for a term say five years at a time.

By doing this the public works payroll is eliminated, and the taxpayers do not have to pay for fuel, vehicle insurance, new equipment, mechanical repairs, tires, etc.

Also elimination of that dreaded John Horgan employers health care tax. A tax that was created without any research on the added expenses being incurred. Laid off employees could apply for jobs with the contractors. Some employees could also form their own company. The new operating system would see Public Works Management staff retained who would give the weekly work schedule to the maintenance contractor.

The municipality and city would only write 12 cheques per year for public works maintenance, payable to the contractor.

Gone are wages and benefits, pay raises every year, and the threat of strike action from the public works employees. In the past, public works employees always took strike action over the most sensible way of working with no work stoppages, and contract talks continuing until a new contract was accepted by both the union and city management.

These employees seem to forget that just because a contract date has expired, and a new contract has to be renegotiated, nothing changes. The expired contract is still in effect. Also new wage scale is all retroactive from the date of the new contract.

The present union contracts are signed with pay raises every year of the contract. This can not keep going this way from a taxpayers point of view.

The latest Municipality of North Cowichan union contract was a four-year contract with a wage increase of two per cent on Jan. 1, 2017, two per cent on Jan. 1, 2018, two per cent on Jan. 1, 2019, and two per cent on Jan. 1, 2020.

A labourer’s pay rate is $27.99 in 2017, $28.55 in 2018, $29.12 in 2019, and $29.70 in 2020. Add 35 per cent of taxpayer funded benefits to these rates and the hourly rate combined becomes $37.79 in 2017, $38.54 in 2018, $39.31 in 2019, and $40.10 in 2020.

Presently a labourer’s monthly wage in 2019 is $5,125. How long can taxpayers keep paying for this? This nonsense just means more increases each year in property taxes.

The time has now come as to who has the final say in these wage rates. The taxpayers or the elected municipal officials?

The negotiated pay rates are getting out of control. Every job classification has a limit as to what a job classification should pay. Once the limit is reached, then no further pay raises will be given out.

If these pay rates keep going the way they are, then a labourer’s hourly rate of pay with benefits would be $48.11 per hour in the year 2030 with taxpayer funded benefits.

Totally outrageous and endless.

In summary, major changes are required to eliminate yearly property taxes increases.

Unbelievable!

Joe Sawchuk

Duncan

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