Hold the line on city salaries

Re: Comment by Coun. Henry Braun – city payroll increases “unsustainable”

Re: Comment by Coun. Henry Braun – city payroll increases “unsustainable.”

Although a “no-brainer” conclusion by Coun. Braun, no doubt supported by the vast majority of city taxpayers as we struggle prudently to manage expenses within available incomes, I have little doubt the general trend in council is to build generous annual increases into payroll forecasts – and I wonder why?

Why is it apparently impossible to limit pay increases to annual inflation?

Why is it thought necessary to award city employees salaries and benefits far in excess of those awarded the average non-government worker?

“Well,” most councillors may reply, “that’s just the way it’s always been around here, so if it’s not broken, why fix it?” Or, as suggested by Coun. Braun, perhaps one needs to be a forensic accountant to understand the $3.5-million payroll increase this past year. Perhaps best for councillors to bury their collective heads in the sand, rather than risk exposing fiscal imagination, or disinterest.

Avoiding or acquiescing to city employee demands by showering excessive increases on them is just too simplistic a fix, and of course “unsustainable.” How about creating a cost-limiting wages and benefits paradigm that will cause other cities to view with admiration Abbotsford council’s renewed commitment toward practical, sustainable budgeting?

Couple of basic suggestions you may wish to consider: Stop believing it is necessary to pay top dollar to attract the best management. The fallacy of this policy has on many occasions been confirmed in the international media when supposed “best person for the job” executives make financially disastrous decisions – followed by an incomprehensible commitment to send the executive packing with an outrageously excessive termination package, and lame “we had no choice” comment from the employer. Was the employer representative asleep when the hiring package was negotiated?

I have no doubt the majority of city employees are hard-working, seriously committed to making Abbotsford a wonderful environment in which to live. However, if their argument is that Langley, or perhaps Surrey, pay their employees higher wages and benefits for similar work, wish them well as they pack up and depart for supposed greener pastures.

Everyone can be replaced. With few exceptions, I bet each vacant position could quickly be filled by Abbotsford residents, each one enthusiastic to win a city job with current attractive remuneration package – even if forewarned not to expect further increases in excess of inflation for the next five years.

To demonstrate my point, you can place my application on top of the pile. I’ll be happy start on Monday, with work boots or briefcase.

T. Jones

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