10 tips for saving $$ at Vancouver City Hall

Post by Mike Klassen in


Council is calling for another expensive report from staff on cost-cutting. Here are 10 free tips from CityCaucus.com for immediate action

Rescuing City HallWe continue to hold out hope that Vancouver's rookie Mayor and Councillors will come up with substantive ideas on how to govern the City during tough economic times. So far we've had PR and motions written on the back of a napkin.

Turning the question back to staff for yet another report on spending is not only expensive in terms of their time, but also the delay in approving and implementing any cost saving measures. In response CityCaucus.com is coming to the rescue of Vancouver taxpayers with our Ten Tips to Save the City Bucks! Some of these items will only save a few thousand, some much more, but they will demonstrate leadership during the economic slump. Here's our list:

  1. Put an immediate freeze on the Mayor's office budget for three years. Mayor Robertson has increased the size of his political staff when compared to the past Sullivan and Campbell administrations. A more prudent course would be to live within the same dollars allotted to previous mayor's offices.
  2. Commit to a salary freeze for all City Councillors for 2 years. No one is expecting Vancouver's economy to improve much before 2011.
  3. Place a one-year freeze on all discretionary travel. No junkets, no unnecessary trips outside the city paid for by taxpayers.
  4. Put an immediate spending limit on all hosted catered events. The City of Vancouver spends a TON on food and beverages for events that could either be reduced or ended outright.
  5. Eliminate the gourmet dinners & lunches prepared for City Councillors during public meetings, and return to a more modest "bag lunch" style of meal.
  6. Enforce the practice of shutting down all computers and unused lights throughout City Hall. During last Spring's Earth Day lights out event this proved to be a worthwhile cost saving measure. The City should be an example to us all.
  7. Eliminate monthly car allowance and provide monthly single-zone transit passes for all elected officials (reminder to Mayor Robertson, be sure to upgrade when visiting Burnaby)
  8. Reduce the amount of paper printing in reports. Entire forests go into photocopying at City Hall. Find reasons to end this now.
  9. Relax garbage collection schedules for residences while maintaining recycling pick-up. CUPE's 2007 garbage strike taught us we can live with less service. It's time to act on this now.
  10. Survey all city employees on ways they could reduce spending by 2%. The best ideas will come from Vancouver's rank and file civil service on ways to reduce spending. Post their input on the City's website, and act on these recommendations as soon as possible.

By moving on these and other measures immediately, it will send an important signal to Vancouver taxpayers that this Council is serious about controlling spending. Burning up valuable time with reports and more talk will do precisely the opposite.


Savings at City Hall are simple. Look at the payroll. Hundreds upon hundreds of city workers with 6 figure incomes and fat pensions for working 37.5 hours (which when adding the flex days = 7-8 weeks in annual holidays).

The pendulum has swung so far that unless you are a senior executive in the private sector, the place to work is for the city.

Look at the "average" administration jobs at city hall and then go to http://www.payscale.ca and see how out of whack the salaries are. City employees are making double their private sector counterparts.

Interesting comments, but I think the horse has left the barn on civil service salaries especially since the 2007 labour dispute. This Council is not going to be renegotiating contracts, nor should they attempt to do so. However, there are provisions for contracting out on some services that can be looked at.

For many taxpayers it's the extravagances and unnecessary spending like the Inaugural event that makes them crazy. Our suggestions are just a start, and I'm sure City Hall insiders can come up with a much more comprehensive list if given the chance.

There are huge disparities in salaries between City Staff and Elected Officials. Why? City Manager makes $300k+ and a Councillor makes $55k. Why is there such a huge difference in salaries. Are Councillors valued a lot less than City Staff? If so, why, and how does this affect the dynamic between Staff and Councillors?

There are salaries discrepancies between a number of staff. While there are a number with the 6 figure incomes (it also depends on the position), there are also a large number (i.e. administration) that are absolutely under paid. Don't push the 6 figure incomes without acknowledging the ones that DON'T make that amount! The potential "hit" that those lower on the ladder will have to take is huge. The morale at the City is at the lowest it can get!

On another note, what about the upcoming employee mobility program that doesn't seem to get mentioned? This is supposed to roll out in June 2009. While all councillors voted for this program to go, none of them have been mandated to participate in that! $6/day for staff is deadly especially for an employer that couldn't wait to roll this in before the Canada Line was opened.

I would like to know if there are huge changes about to take place if it will start in the Mayor's and City Manager's own backyard? Let's face it...they should also be affected by all the upcoming changes. How's about the now enormous Communications dept?

Mike you are confusing the union jobs with the non-union management jobs. Its the white collar city workers that are the problem. HR people don't need to be making 100k+. These are 50k-60k jobs in the private sector.
Why does every white collar job at city hall have a higher salary than their public sector counterparts?

Anyone at city hall who thinks that they are underpaid have been out of the private sector too long. You have lost touch with what administrative jobs are paid in the private sector. You have forgotten that your pension plan is worth $10-15k a year equivalent additional income to a private sector employee. There is no such thing as a flex day and 7.5 hour work days is how you get laid off during a recession.
Rachel, a payroll clerk making 50-85k is 25% way more than in the private sector. Look it up.

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