We are all struggling more than the CVRD
Dear chair and board members,
Thank you for your press release of April 24 in which you highlight the CVRD’s struggles to cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic constraints. The content of your letter sounds like the Liberal caucus member responses to opposition questions in the house of parliament — so many answer words but so little content and the question is never really answered.
You described solid waste as a service example with struggles. The line-ups are longer and your upstream and downstream services are unpredictable. We will work with the line-ups and hope that you can continue to transfer our solid waste to meet reasonable service levels so that you do not have to close solid waste disposal. I find it quite manageable to social distance at Bings Creek. Everything else seems workable so far. Hang in there.
Our circumstances definitely have nothing to do with the CVRD over-used term “The New Normal”. The current situation is NOT normal and I hope that you have not misled any of our electorate into thinking that it might be.
On the topic of the budget that the board oversees and is responsible for within its mandate, you mentioned nothing about services that are closed to the public or have budgeted spending that will have fewer months of value to taxpayers in 2020 and could be reduced in this budget year. As CVRD financial management must be by function (according to the local government act), your analysis and reporting should be by function and highlight the details of your management plans for each. Your CAO could have led this effort for you if you asked him to.
For example, I question the details of your financial management plan for parks and recreation facilities that are currently closed to the public. The last time I looked at the budget, Kerry Park Recreation and Shawnigan Lake Community Centre made up about 30 per cent of the tax requisition for Area B. Further, taxpayers fund about 75 per cent of the Kerry Park Recreation Centre use from your requisition with the balance of funding from user fees.
Without doing any detailed analysis, we might assume that you have lost only 25 per cent of the revenue (approximately) with the closure of the facility (on a monthly basis during its closure) and you have not identified how much of the operating cost can be reduced in 2020. It may also be some time before recreation facilities can be reopened as they inherently have gatherings. Are you still paying for staff that must be laid off?
This example is much more relevant to taxpayers who are concerned about your financial management during a time when the value to taxpayers for the taxes they pay to the province for CVRD services is under question. We do not want another year with a hefty tax requisition increase because you did not pay attention to spending in 2020.
We are all paying a price for this pandemic and your job is to obtain financial management plans for every function to adjust to the current situation, reduce cost to taxpayers and better prepare us for the next budget year.
So you missed the opportunity to adjust the tax requisition for 2020, but you can adjust spending and carry forward funding (in reserves) and soften the budget increase next year. If you are not paying attention to your organization’s spending then that is an even bigger problem.
This is your duty to taxpayers. Please get on it before it is too late.
P.S.: Please, no more whining about your struggles and line-ups. We are all struggling much more than the CVRD.