No one likes a miser. Especially at this time of year. But it is easy to be generous with other people’s money. No one can accuse our municipalities of being miserly. Take municipalities in BC for example —
A vast majority of B.C. municipalities spent taxpayers’ money at double the rate that population and inflation grew from 2000 to 2008, and a business group is demanding they rein in their spending.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, in the third edition of its Municipal Spending Watch report, presented statistics showing B.C. cities and towns spent almost 10 per cent more on operating expenses in 2008 than in 2007, despite inflation and population only rising a combined four per cent.
We couldn’t find a report from the CFIB for any maritime province but if Wolfville is any example, and we suspect it is, we would see similar figures here in NS. We know that Wolfville’s budget has grown way beyond both population growth and inflation.
The CFIB is recommending that municipal spending be limited by law to the combined growth of population and inflation, and that an independent municipal auditor general be appointed.
Jones said municipal governments “are very successful in perpetuating the myth that they are woefully short of revenues,” which leads to cuts in high-profile services, such as closing the Stanley Park petting zoo or Bloedel Conservatory.
“What you’re seeing is the closure of the petting zoo, but what’s less visible is what’s on with wages and benefits of staff,” said Jones, who notes another CFIB report found Vancouver city staffers were paid 35 per cent more for wages and benefits than private-sector workers in comparable jobs.
She also cited the example of Prince George, where the city increased spending by $5 million by adding 16 positions but then made highly visible cuts to the city’s snow-removal budget.
We have seen exactly the same talk here, cutting service and programs like the hours at the information centre rather than get to the core problems internally. Meanwhile pet projects like the Bob’s bellies and the park get funded. There is a lot of humbug.