Last March, Nanaimo council voted down the idea of an external core review that would have examined spending at city hall in an attempt to find efficiencies.
Later that month, council explored the cost of an external core review of its contracting practices. At that time, there was only an appetite by council if costs were minimal, and Mayor John Ruttan said with property tax rates likely to increase, he wasn’t comfortable spending money on a consultant.
Something has changed.
With the 2012 provisional budget, council made it clear it wants to add a permanent internal auditor position which will cost about $145,000 annually in salary and benefits.
Council also indicated that, for an additional $100,000, it wants to bring in a consultant to help kick-start the new Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which will consist of three city councillors. The aim will be to determine council’s corporate priorities.
Ruttan said it’s part of an effort to build trust in the decision-makers.
But why should taxpayers have to buy $250,000 worth of trust?
Nine people were elected to act as the city’s board of directors, with a mandate to prioritize needs and spend the $160-million budget accordingly. What’s more, taxpayers fork out $40 million in city staff salaries and benefits annually.
If there are efficiencies to be found, council and staff should find them. By wanting to bring in outside help, council is admitting it is not up to the task.
Taxpayers, people who work hard every day for their money, expect the corporation to be run efficiently and with its best interests in mind. It should be automatic.
Adding another layer of bureaucracy will only add to the problem. If council is not up to the task, it should be replaced by people who are. But it shouldn’t cost taxpayers a single penny more.