Budget draws sharp criticism

They were small in numbers but united in their opposition to what they see as out-of-control bureaucracy.

Nine people attended Monday’s City of Vernon 2011 budget input session, and four presented their concerns to council.

“We have too many employees, we’re top heavy in management and they’re only interested in protecting their jobs,” said resident Rose Pollock.

“There are some departments where the staff provides no practical advice. We have a real estate agent. A property was assessed at $180,000 and sold for $136,000.  What’s the business sense in that?”

Lew Rossner told council homeowners are paying 20 per cent more in taxes than five years ago, and there’s been a 56 per cent increase in the number of employees working for the city in the same period.

“Council must immediately start to implement an expense reduction program to reduce per capita spending to 2005 levels,” he said.

“If our senior city managers are unwilling or unable to do this, as well as impose a zero-based future budgeting process, then they should either be subject to a transparent third-party review or terminated.”

Jamie Paterson, who lives on Tronson Road, questioned why boulevard landscaping is needed along 20th Street when basic infrastructure is missing in some areas.

“Where I live, there are no sidewalks, barely a shoulder. There are no street lights and no sewer. I must live in a really dumpy part of town,” he said.

The most extensive attack came from Barry Beardsell, a  former city councillor.

“You have failed to address the systemic problem facing the city,” he said to council.

“The hirings are outrageous and the pay increases are outrageous. Infrastructure spending has been diverted from essential needs to non-essential.”

Beardsell questioned why the city is no longer part of regional functions like fire dispatch, economic development and tourism.

“All of those things are now being footed by Vernon taxpayers.”

Beardsell demanded that a number of staff positions be eliminated, including the transportation demand management co-ordinator who looks at how to get people out of vehicles.

“We can’t afford TDM right now. Let’s not spend the whole budget worrying about people in spandex who get out on the bicycle trails,” he said.

 

Council will discuss the proposed 2011 budget at its  March 28 meeting.