Tag Archives: NS

MLA pensions

We have respect for the work of AIMS and have referred to their reports, such as the Municipal report card, several times over the years in our posts.  AIMS  has thoughts concerning  NS MLA pensions and here is an excerpt on this subject, with some links, from their online newsletter, The Beacon. 

AIMS Director of Research recommends eliminating MLA pensions

The culture of entitlement surrounding MLA pensions in Nova Scotia – and other provinces – has been a key focus for AIMS in recent weeks.

AIMS Director of Research Don McIver is recommending the elimination of MLA pensions in Nova Scotia , or at least, replacing them with fixed-contribution plans or an RRSP allowance. AIMS issued a press release on the topic and generated important discussion in the province. AIMS ’ recommendations were mentioned in the Chronicle Herald as well as on News 95.7.

In addition, McIver wrote an op-ed entitled MLA Platinum Pensions: Till the end of time?, which appeared in the Chronicle Herald. In this commentary, McIver McIver says the panel should have looked beyond the narrow mandate of pensions alone, and considered the total remuneration of members, including their per diems and perks. “They should have taken note of the level of responsibility—recognizing our small population—as well as our ability to pay,” says McIver. On average, Nova Scotians receive significantly lower incomes than in wealthier provinces. “If we receive Nova Scotia wages, so should our legislators.”

The current MLA pension plan entitles members with as little as five years service, including those who are retiring or defeated, to collect a pension as early as age 45. A government minister with just 15 years service could draw more than $100,000 each year for the rest of his or her life. If they are still serving at age 71 they could collect that pension while receiving their paycheque.

Most Nova Scotians do not have a pension plan.

“In a world of gold-plated public pension plans,” says McIver, “ Nova Scotia ’s Member’s Plan is diamond studded.” …

You might also wish to follow the AIMS blog.

We are still irked by Wolfville CAO’s diamond studded retirement paid for by the largely unaware resident taxpayers.

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June 17, 2011

IRONY

Paul Withers for CBC TV does a story this evening on the financial stresses on NS towns with Wolfville as an example, streets that need paving, work NOT being done, including an interview with Keith Irving going on about the infrastructure deficit and then the visuals switch to show where work IS being done  –  The mayor’s Clock Park, where no expense is spared. Did CBC notice the contradiction?

We’ll add a link  to the segment if we find one. For now this will have to do.

UPDATE: Here is the link to the CBC news at 6  for June 17th segment: The Wolfville clip is at about 7:50 onward.

Dig Deeper!

The Auditor General Lapointe says he will dig deeper if he is given new evidence. Too bad he is only talking about the MLA spending scandal.

Where is OUR Auditor General? Who digs into our Town affairs to find if there are scandals buried there?

HRM’s Auditor General was appointed in 2007 and it is time there was another Municipal Auditor charged with unearthing wrongdoing within municipalities outside of Halifax. If there was a call for evidence we can bet he would be inundated.

If the Province is going to extricate itself from the fiscal hole it is in it had better start looking for waste, fraud, theft and breach of trust everywhere.

People are angry and they have a right to be.

Did we hear that right?

The NS MLA pension issue is really hotting up. Dexter’s government is the one to face the music.

The NS plan is extremely generous.

“This is, if not the [most], one of the most lucrative across the country,”

Pressure has been building to have the pension terms reviewed and to have the review independently led. The opposition is piling on of course.

Baillie … said this morning that he wants the panel’s work to be as independent as possible, and that means not having any politicians involved in drafting the panel’s terms of reference.

We thought we heard Mr. Baillie say on TV, in reference to the need for the pension review to be at arm’s length,  that nowhere else in Canada can workers sit and decide on the terms of their own pensions? Hello. What about Wolfville?!  Not only that, here they set their own vacation policy too.

Flip flops

Our ever creative MP Scott Brison is giving the boots to the government over the economy. This is to be expected we suppose.

Liberal MP Scott Brison held a news conference on Friday morning to say Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will unjustly try to take credit for Canada’s sound financial and banking system when he gives a speech in Washington next week.

“This Conservative government wrecked Canada’s finances after inheriting a $13-billion budget surplus from the previous Liberal government and then created a record $56-billion deficit,” the opposition finance critic said.

“Furthermore, it was our Liberal government that ensured our banking system was well-regulated and it was the strong financial prudence and regulatory prudence that protected Canada from the worst of the global financial crisis.”

But may we point out this writing from when the shoe was on the other party foot?

PAUL MARTIN-A PC VIEW              Scott Brison

Paul Martin is widely credited for having presided over a period of economic expansion and deficit elimination, but these advances in the Canadian economy were more the results of the decisions and policies of the Mulroney government.

Meanwhile, Martin neglects to counter serious economic problems that developed during his watch, including a flagging dollar slow productivity growth and elevated household debt. These oversights should be seen as his true legacy

…The deficit did disappear under Martin’s watch, but that had more to do with the bold initiatives taken by his predecessors than anything done by his government. Whereas the Mulroney government focused on policies to prepare Canada to prosper in the 21st century, the Chretien-Martin government has focused on short-term politics, not long- term policies for growth and prosperity. …

Mr. Brison is a party animal. We do not therefore believe him whatever he says.

Related:

Casey never did endorse Baillie’s lead­ership, never provided a friendly salute upon his ascension, unchallenged, to the leader’s post. They are not friends, to put it mildly.

On Monday, Casey told me in an in­terview that she had not been considering a run for the permanent leader’s job. “No, I was not,” she insisted, tossing it off as being unable to take a stand one way or the other while she held the interim post.

I don’t believe that. I think she was organizing and getting ready to go when the waves of innuendo hit.

We have a question. Is there any credible conservative leadership in this province?

Like a lobster- no backbone

Small business is the engine of our provincial economy. Businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up 93% of businesses in Nova Scotia. They provide not just jobs but livelihoods for whole families. Yet they are the first to be squeezed, over taxed and over regulated.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is

… asking government to let small businesses know how much they matter by:

  • Lowering HST when the budget is balanced.
  • Indexing personal income tax —as government promised five years ago.
  • Outlining a long-term tax plan to improve Nova Scotia’s business competitiveness.
  • Restraining government spending to population growth plus inflation.

Our Town Council is in a position to support our businesses by:

  • Not increasing  commercial taxes.
  • Reducing the budget
  • Petitioning the province to introduce policies favorable to small business such as the CFIB suggests (above)  with the same vigor they petition them on issues like smoking and cellphone use.

If you wish to add your voice to CFIB’s to help our small businesses there are a number of things they suggest you can do.

CFIB letter to Flaherty re Bank Credit card policies

Print off and send this postcard [pdf] to the province promoting CFIB’s  suggestions outlined above.

Helping small businesses helps ALL of us.

Berwick’s budget

Berwick’s budget process got a lot of print in the Advertiser of June 8th. Our impression is that, if the report is anything near the truth, there was a lot more fight to cut costs there than in Wolfville, where the process seemed to be rushed through and where everyone just rolled over and said yes, sir, aye sir. There actually seems to be a desire in Berwick to reduce the tax burden on residents. Amazing.

Councillors decided they’d eliminate travel and conference allowances, for example. Wolfville must feel fairly flush financially as our Mayor and Councillors haven’t resorted to such a drastic measure.

Of course there some things in the report which are discouraging.  For example, Councillor Don Clarke apparently said –  “Berwick needs to ‘hold the line’ on tax rates‘. How many times have we heard that weary, old line. As if that held the line on taxes! If Sara Keddy’s report is accurate Clarke then said:

We’re higher than Wolfville or Kentville, even Halifax – don’t add to the tax rate until we absolutely have to.

Oh, dear. How long, how long, will it be before councillors (in charge of our money) get it through their heads that the tax rate is not taxes. The tax rate is a meaningless measure of relative tax burdens between municipalities. There was a page in the Wolfville budget document to show how Wolfville tax rates compared with neighbouring towns. Why? It was a waste of a page. Was the graph meant to deceive taxpayers or is  our CAO woefully uneducated about how property taxes work? But we digress. Back to Berwick.

It didn’t take long for Councillor Clarke in Berwick to be corrected by Mayor John Prall who responded that “Wolfville has a lower rate, but assessments are higher; meaning the town [Wolfville] had the second highest tax burden in the province.”

That bears repeating – the second highest tax burden in the province. We feel this administration won’t be happy until Wolfville is first in this also, as it is in so many other areas.

You mustn’t think however that Berwick’s administration is benign. Anyone buying a house in Berwick should beware; they have seemingly just thrown R1 zoning out the window.