Municipal spending in BC – a primer

Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses

Small and medium business owners believe that a viable benchmark for sustainable operating spending growth is holding it at or below the rate of inflation plus population growth1. In reality, BC real operating spending has increased 46 per cent between 2005 and 2015 – almost four times the province’s population growth rate of 12 per cent. On average, a family of four in BC could have saved $7,842 in municipal taxes over a 10 year term if municipal operating spending had been held in line with that benchmark.

Recommendations:

1. Limit increases in operating spending to no more than inflation and population growth. 
2. Introduce annual zero-based budgeting, conduct regular service reviews, identify core and non-core services and consider contracting out to the private sector.

3. Have suitable contingency funds for special circumstances that require an increase in operating spending (e.g. natural disasters, special events). Wage and hiring control
4. Limit compensation increases until public and private sector compensation levels are aligned. Any new employees should be hired at compensation levels in line with private
sector norms for similar occupations.

5. Increase pension sustainability by: reducing unfunded pension liabilities (without solely relying on taxpayer bailouts), eliminating early retirement provisions (e.g. bridge
benefit) and enrolling new hires in defined contribution instead of defined benefit pension plans.
 
6. Eliminate the banking of sick days and replace with affordable short-term disability plans.

7. Consider reducing the size of the civil service (primarily through attrition). 

8. Share municipal staff between municipalities to find cost efficiencies and to allow small municipalities access to high quality employees.

9. Reform negotiation/arbitration laws and practices to strengthen the municipal

Financial information and accountability

10. Improve access to financial information (e.g. publish at least the five most recent Audited Financial Statements on the city’s website and update according to legislated
deadlines for reporting, centralize standardized data on website of ministry responsible for municipal affairs).
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11. Improve comparability of financial information. Collect and publish in a consistent manner over time and provide templates that municipal governments should use for
financial reporting (i.e., budgets, financial statements and/or municipal financial information returns).
  
12. Improve the level of detail of financial information (e.g. number of employees, total amount spent on wages, salaries and benefits broken down by function, amortization of
tangible capital assets, etc.).
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13. Disclose the salaries and benefits of public sector employees making more than $75,000, and make this information easily available on municipal and provincial websites, and in municipal financial statements.
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14. Track and monitor municipal financial performance (e.g. annual indicators, benchmark by which to measure operating spending performance).
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15. Support the Auditor General for Local Government and expand its mandate to include analysis of value-for-money.

Where does Oliver, Osoyoos and other nearby towns and villages stand – # in survey 152

Best

Oliver 31

Keremeos 35

Princeton 58

Peachland 79

Osoyoos 98

Summerland 115

Penticton 121

Worst

More info www.cfib.ca

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