EDITORIAL: Pricey wish list in Parksville

It's early days and city council will likely hack away at the spending proposals in this 2016-2020 financial plan

It’s the first Christmas wish list of the year and Santa is going to need a much bigger sled.

Parksville city staff members seem to have taken the federal election result to heart. Let’s see, the country gave a majority government to a party and leader who is OK with deficits and spending. The city can’t legally run a deficit, but staff have got the spending part down pat.

It’s a wish list, to be sure. Santa doesn’t generally bring everything that’s requested. And staff know political pressures will whittle away at their gift list. However, they seem to be following a theory that goes something like this: ask for so much that you’ll get a few things you wanted.

Here’s a look at some of the things that are currently in the 2016 budget and/or the 2016-2020 financial plan, documents that don’t need final approval from city council until May of next year:

• Staff. Lots of new staff. The lunch room and parking facilities might have to be expanded. Two bylaw enforcement officers at roughly $88,000/year; a human resources advisor at $90,000/year; an engineering technician ($81,000); both a casual and a full-time position at the fire hall (total of about $98,000/year) and an IT summer student in 2017 ($24,000).

• Still with staff, succession planning is important and the city is about to lose two of its key people to retirement — CAO Fred Manson and Fire Chief Doug Banks. The 2016 budget includes a whopping $50,000 for the CAO succession plan and the city has already approved $18,000 for a succession plan in 2015 for the fire chief and in 2016 the fire chief will be paid $55,000 for unused vacation pay.

• Um, still with staff, training is important. There’s admin training, HR training, health and wellness initiatives, an Insights facilitator and more for about $26,000 — in 2016 alone.

• The 2016 budget alone calls for $636,000 in capital spending, including a training tower for the fire department ($200,000) and a cistern system for Community Park ($280,000). Oh, and the new bylaw officer will need a vehicle, of course ($36,000).

This list just scratches the surface of staff’s 2016-2020 wish list. How do they propose this is all paid for? A 4.5 per cent tax increase in 2016 and four per cent in years 2017-2020.

It could be argued the city is playing catch-up. The 2015 tax increase was 1.5 per cent, which barely covers inflation. All of these wish-list items above can be justified, we’re sure, but we are disappointed some much-talked-about issues seem to be getting no attention, things like serious downtown revitalization, the city-owned land at Alberni Highway/Jensen and homeless/affordable housing concerns.

It’s like city staff wants to dictate what’s important in Parksville — those pesky politicians and the issues they discuss during that bothersome thing called an election don’t matter.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach council talks East Village plans, traffic calming

Ideas floated for village as a pedestrian-friendly area attracting tech, digital arts industry

Oceanside RCMP auxiliary officer earns top honour for volunteer work

Dally presented special award by Island Commander

Island residents team up on beach cleanups, call for government regulation

‘It’s way beyond what we can deal with’: Lasqueti, Texada, Denman islanders

‘A really kind person’: Parksville’s Nick Major remembered by instructor

Outpouring of support in the days following death of young man

Lighthouse Community Hall to get new $40K roof

Regional district approves 2019 CWF projects

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Vancouver Island teens missing after vehicle found ablaze near Dease Lake, BC

RCMP say a body discovered nearby not one of the missing teens

Nanaimo tubber sets all-time record at bathtub race

Justin Lofstrom completes course in fastest-ever time

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

It’s the one-year anniversary of when a man opened fire along the bustling street before shooting and killing himself

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

The federal government apologized in 1988 for its racism against ‘enemy aliens’

B.C. VIEWS: NDP pushes ahead with Crown forest redistribution

This isn’t the time for a radical Indigenous rights agenda

Two dead in two-vehicle crash between Revelstoke and Golden

RCMP are investigating the cause of the crash

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

The current case is more general, applying to employees, including men, who worked for the RCMP

Most Read