Do our residents know how much public employees actually make?

as the mayor sees it with District of Barriere mayor Bill Humphreys - public employees

Recently a report commissioned by the Province of BC was leaked to the public. The report was done by Ernst & Young.

The mandate of the report was: In November 2013, the Province of British Columbia engaged Ernst & Young to conduct a review of recent trends in compensation across the BC Public Sector and to assess the current models for setting mandates and management and executive compensation. The Province required that the review foremost consider the role of taxpayers, as well as recognize the need for leadership and talent in the BC Public Sector.

In the Executive Summary it was stated: There is clear variation in models used for setting compensation across the BC Public Sector. Compared to the Provincial level of Government, local Government compensation is not coordinated (or regulated); there are no limits other than what local Governments determine the sector can bear; and there are less transparency requirements. This has resulted in a lack of alignment in compensation between levels and also across the Sector.

I find a number of things interesting in just these two portions at the beginning of the report. First off Ernst & Young were to do the review considering foremost the role of the taxpayers. An interesting concept don’t you think? The Province is actually asking for a review of how the money from taxpayers is being spent on running the business of government and Crown Corporations across the Province. That includes local governments.

That brings me to the second point. It seems someone found out that the current local government models of compensation have no limits other than what the sector can bear with less transparency requirements. In other words, local government can pay what they feel like and have virtually no mandated requirement to report to the local taxpayer. Currently the District of Barriere only reports on two employees ,both of whom earn more than $70, 000 a year.

I suspect that the vast majority of residents in many communities across B.C., as well as the Councils that represent those residents have little knowledge of what the local public sector employees actually make. In many communities Council is not consulted when new staff are hired nor are they given input into what the wages of employees should be past being given the overall budget figures. In my mind this does not meet even the minimal levels of transparency taxpayers should expect.

I am not saying Council should be interfering into the operational side of local government. What I am saying is that staff in all communities should operate in such a manner so that it is Council that approves these wages, not senior staff.

In communities where the staff are represented by a union the Council or Regional District board members have the ability to set the parameters of negotiations. The negotiated settlements are a matter of public record. In communities where the employees are nonunion it would seem there is very little drive to reveal what the year over year increases in wages are.

This is patently wrong. The process needs to change. The report done by Ernst & Young found that local government staff wages have far exceeded what the market could or should bear. There is little or no room in any community’s budget for large wage increases but it seems that they happen.

There was a very long discussion around this topic at the Mayor’s Caucus held during the Union of BC Municipalities convention in Whistler this past week. I understand that there were also discussions around the report at the various CAO gatherings held during the convention as well. I can only hope the two sets of discussions will come together at some point particularly for the smaller communities like ours.

Open and honest communication with residents is the only way for Council to do business. Residents have a right to know where their money is being spent. Residents also have a right to have those that represent them and the senior management staff to act in a responsible manner. Giving large wage increases and increasing budget levels year over year is not responsible nor is it sustainable.

There is truly only one taxpayer.

Just Posted

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

African Children’s Choir making a difference in the world

Waroto Children’s Choir celebrate Christ and caring for community on six month world tour

Snowpack at normal levels, but El Niño is lurking

Despite a warmer than usual winter that has produced a dearth of… Continue reading

Letter: New party with a strong platform could form majority government in B.C.

Voters fed up with BC’s political parties open the door for a new party to enter BC politics

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Company issues lifetime ban after man jumps from cruise ship

Nick Naydev posted the video last week showing him standing on the balcony of the Symphony of the Seas

Parents in this B.C. city can no longer opt kids out of class for personal beliefs

Change comes as part of ‘big overhaul’ of school district’s learning resources policy approved by board

BC Hydro scammers bilked customers out of nearly $45,000 in 2018

Nearly 2,000 people reported scams to the utility, as they continue to be more common

Good news: Peak flu season over in B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says that while peak season is over, rates remain high this time of year

B.C. university students dumpster dive to shed light on food waste

Eating only from dumpsters, the students hope to raise money for food banks in Northern Canada

B.C. woman posts to Facebook after she and nephew reported missing for days

Roseanne Supernault says both she and her six-year-old nephew are fine and she has contacted police

Unruly passenger forces B.C.-bound flight to divert to Calgary

Police say charges are pending against a woman in her 40s

Inflation rises as higher airfares, veggie prices offset cheaper gas

Statistics Canada says inflation accelerated to two per cent in December

Most Read