Financial crisis looming for city

Trends indicate the city’s financial structure is on the path to becoming a crisis unless the direction is reversed.

To the Editor,

In the period from 2006 to 2010, the population of the City of Nanaimo increased from 78,874 to 85,828, up 8.8 per cent.

During the same period, the sum total of salaries,wages and benefits for city employees increased from $34.8 million to $43.6 million, up an eye-opening 25.2 per cent.

This trend line indicates that the city’s financial structure is on the path to becoming a crisis unless the direction is reversed, sooner rather than later, and is a result of ongoing and relentless wage increases for both union and non-union employees and the insatiable appetite to hire more employees.

In 2012, the city intends to add an additional 12 positions, one of which will be the notable communications manager.

There is only one way the city can pay for these new positions, and that is to raise taxes. This it does and does very well.

Unfortunately, the elected officials – mayor and council – are, as a group, woefully out of their depth on matters of financial management, both in experience and educational background.

They are overwhelmed and dominated by the slick presentations of senior staff.

Seven of nine members of council voted to approve the latest budget.

Eventually, if the trend continues, the majority of taxes will be  consumed by city employees, with less being available for asphalt, concrete, steel, etc. to support needed improvements to infrastructure.

This is unsustainable and does not bode well for the future of Nanaimo.

Wayne Schulstad

Nanaimo