Budget 2009: Mayor and Councillor office budgets to rise by 4.7%

Post by Daniel Fontaine in ,

4 comments


Vancouver homeowners are bracing for the highest tax increase in the region

A little while ago, we wrote about how Vancouver City Hall could help reduce costs and keep tax hikes to a minimum. Our CityCaucus.com team thought it might be prudent to review those cost-cutting tips now that City Manager Penny Ballem has introduced her draft 2009 budget.

We should note off the top that Budget 2009 proposes to increase the annual budget for the Mayor and Councillors from $1,976,000 to $2,068,000. This is an increase of $92,000 or 4.5% compared to last year. The current rate of inflation is about 1%. Meanwhile, elected officials in Canada's other big cities are doing their part by forgoing pay hikes and freezing their office budgets during the recession.

It is worth mentioning there was almost no meaningful dialogue with front-line City workers regarding their opinion on how to save costs at City Hall. We're pretty confident if they had been properly canvassed, they could have come up with some very creative ideas on how to trim the budget. In any event, the following is a recap of our previously posted cost-cutting proposals.

  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.

For other cost cutting tips, we suggest you read the following post. Ok, now back to regularly scheduled programming.

4 Comments

Cheers on your proposal to end car allowances and give bus passes to Councillors - I would extend that to include the perk vehicles given to senior staffers. With the new transportation program with Cooperative Auto Net to be implemented this year, staff will still have access to cars for business purposes, but will save taxpayers tens of thousands in leasing fees.

Having said that, I think your proposals for cost savings lack sophistication and would be symbolic and politically cute, at best. Where the real inefficiency is at City Hall - the same task is done several different times by several different people throughout the city departments, supporting time-honoured fifedoms (that were supported enthusiastic by your favourite City Manager Judy Rogers and successive Councils, I might add).

That's why I support Raymond Louie's audit of all functions to identify efficiencies and bust up the power grid at City Hall and centralize certain functions in favour of taxpayers.

kudos for some good ideas... earth day especially has never made sense to me...everyday should be "earth day" as you mentioned..ties into the "wasted paper" topic too, as the cities new dispatch system for fire more often than not- prints out dispatches on 2 sheets of paper- the 2nd sheet is usually only 2-5 lines that couldnt fit on 1pg due extra information and maybe font size? anyway if it was 1 sheet(like its been for eternity) that would save up to 40,000 sheets of paper a year...
the new council has asked (via emails) for ideas to save costs, spending cuts and training has been cut and there has been a very obvious reduction in senior positions being filled and retirees replaced in recent weeks.
the only other comment I have is the one that got me to your site in December after talking to you on nw980 about the missed garbage pickup due to snow and holidays at christmas ---that you were adamantly stating you needed weekly pick up- as it "piled up" yet above #9 you state we can do with "relaxed collection" now...that is a little ironic from what you were stating on nw when trying to make a story about the new mayor?? (and if I'm not mistaken do u live in Van or New West..and would be exempt from any such "relaxed service"?

Thanks for your comments. Our call during Snowmageddon was not for regular garbage pick-up, which would have been difficult if not near impossible for our trucks and drivers during some days. We advocated for more communication from City Hall, and a contingency plan especially for shut-ins and disabled people. As most of us are trying to forget, the communication department at City Hall went on vacation during the worst snowfalls.

I saw Raging Raymond Louie on the TV news last night. He wants to start a rent-a-bike program. It would cost $2.00 per rental. So I would suggest we give the Mayor and the councillors a roll of Toonies.

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