Vancouver radio station CKNW is reporting late this afternoon that Vancouver City Councillor Raymond Louie is asking City staff to consider implementing a pay freeze for public sector workers as part of budget restraint measures. They are also reporting that management will be looking at early retirement incentives in order to help trim overall labour costs.
City taxpayers were facing a massive hike of almost 8.29% this year alone if Council didn't consider pay freezes or other cutbacks to the budget. Mayor Robertson committed during the recent election to raise property taxes by no more than the rate of inflation, which currently sits around 3%.
It is unclear whether the "hiring freeze" referred to in Louie's motion will apply to the Vancouver Police Department (VPD).
No word yet on the reaction from the Canadian Union of Public Employees or the Vancouver Police Union regarding how Vision Vancouver's proposal might impact their collective agreements. The CUPE agreement provided for 17.5% increase in wages over the life of the contract which expires in 2011.
Below is a copy of the news release issued by the Office of the Mayor and the motion introduced by Councillor Louie.
OFFICE OF THE MAYOR News Release
City of Vancouver
February 3, 2009
Mayor and Council consider further spending cuts to reduce taxes
VANCOUVER - Council directed the City Manager today to immediately take
all necessary steps to reduce tax increases in the 2009 operating
budget, including the consideration of both hiring and pay freezes.
"We're facing challenging economic times, and City Hall needs to
adjust," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "The direction that Council has
given to the City Manager today will make sure that we are expanding our
search for savings in our City budget."
Councillor Raymond Louie, Chair of the City's Services and Budgets
Committee, today introduced a motion directing the City Manager to take
all necessary steps to produce a budget that will "protect taxpayers and
mitigate any compromise of key City services."
The motion also directs the City Manager to consider the following steps
when limiting property tax increases, some of which include:
* hiring freezes;
* pay freezes;
* limiting external consultant engagements; and
* early retirement.
"When our new Council was sworn in, we were staring at a potential 13%
property tax increase for homeowners," said Councillor Louie. "Since
that time, we've cut $26 million from the budget - but it's not enough.
That's why today we're taking extra steps to cut spending at City Hall
so that we can reign in property tax increases."
Office of the Mayor
Motion introduced by Councillor Louie:
WHEREAS current economic conditions require extraordinary due diligence on the part of the City to ensure that the costs to taxpayers is mitigated to the greatest extent possible;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT Council direct the City Manager to immediately take all necessary steps to produce a 2009 Operating Budget that will protect taxpayers and mitigate any compromise on key city services;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City Manager be asked to consider steps which may possibly include:
- Review of all "projects" underway
- Expedited implementation of shared services across all City departments, outside boards (Park and Recreation, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Police, Vancouver Civic Theatres) and owned/controlled entities (Parking Corporation of Vancouver, Pacific National Exhibition)
- Hiring freezes
- Pay freezes
- Triage and limiting of all external consultant engagements
- Early retirement
- review and adjust City business activities to align with the City's core mandate under the Vancouver Charter
AND THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the City Manager continue these efforts as necessary to limit future property tax increases in 2010 and 2011.