City of Nanaimo moves closer to two-per cent tax increase

Three high-ranking city staff positions eliminated from amended financial plan

Nanaimo city councillors moved one step closer to reaching their goal of limiting a tax increase to two per cent as part of the city’s financial plan.

During a special council meeting held at the city’s service and resource centre on Monday morning, councillors agreed on a number of measures in order to reduce the proposed property tax rates in the 2018-2022 financial plan.

Councillors have been going through the budget process since October, when the first draft budget was presented. Monday’s special council meeting comes after the financial plan amendment bylaw failed on first reading during a council meeting last week, when councillors made it clear to staff that they wanted to see the property tax rate increase for 2018 be lowered to two per cent.

Among the measures councillors agreed upon included eliminating a number of high-ranking city staff positions from the budget, including a director of communications and a manager of treasury and risk. Councillors, at a meeting later in the day, agreed to use $450,000 of last year’s surplus used it to reduce the 2018 tax rate, according to Laura Mercer, the city’s deputy financial officer, who said the property tax rate is now at a 2.08-per cent increase.

Coun. Ian Thorpe, who made the motion to remove the communications position from the budget, said although he previously supported the inclusion of a communication director, he felt that its removal was one way to reduce the property tax rate, adding that he would support the inclusion of a communications director or manager in future budgets.

“I see it as one small step we can take to reduce the budget for this year, but in the future I definitely would support a director of communications, although I am not sure it needs to be someone at a director level,” Thorpe said.

RELATED: Nanaimo city councillors debate 3.2-per cent tax increase

RELATED: Financial plan to be voted on by Nanaimo councillors

RELATED: City council won’t accept more than a two-per-cent tax increase

However, Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay disagreed with the idea of not retaining a communications director.

“It is absolutely ludicrous to me that a corporation this size will not have someone to manage communications, both inbound and outbound,” he said.

Councillors also agreed to axe the chief operations officer position from the financial plan. The position had previously been held by Brad McRae, who was fired earlier this year. McRae has since launched a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal claiming that his rights were violated and that he was fired without cause.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong questioned whether it was a good idea to remove the position from the budget, given that McRae has a complaint filed against the city.

John Van Horne, the city’s human resources manager, said it is hard to know whether the tribunal would order the chief operations officer position reinstated if councillors were to remove it from the budget. He said tribunal cases take a long time and that the case before them would likely last beyond 2018.

“I would suggest that, that issue will be so far down the road that for your current budget year, that’s not going to be an issue,” he said.

All three positions that were eliminated came with an annual salary of more than $100,000. Councillors must pass the financial plan by May 15.

Like us on Facebook or follow Nicholas Pescod on Twitter

Just Posted

Nanaimo byelection candidates get their first chance to debate

NDP, B.C. Liberals, Greens participated in Forum for Millennial Leadership debate Monday

Sinking sailboat kept afloat near Nanaimo

Ferry and marine search and rescue vessels assist near Five Finger Island

Nanaimo RCMP seek suspect after armed robbery of gas station

Alleged incident occurred Sunday night at Uplands Drive and Turner Road

Nanaimo man dies in rollover crash in Brechin Hill area

Medical emergency suspected in incident Saturday on Poplar Street

Tonight’s Nanaimo byelection debate intended to inform ‘young professionals’

B.C. Liberals, NDP and Green candidates to participate in Forum for Millennial Leadership debate

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

MARS seeing influx of sick, injured eagles from north part of Vancouver Island

Factors for increase in eagle cases can be anything from lead poisoning to vehicle strikes

Most Read