To great personal promotion and fanfare, Langley Township council told its residents - and for that matter, the residents of southwestern B.C. - about its great and "fair" scheme to continually increase its take from the taxpayers.
The Township representatives went on ad nauseum about how much better the new process of guaranteed salary increases is than the old system.
For those who do not know, the old system was that mayor and council for each municipality would check on what their neighbours were getting paid, and then create a justification for increasing their income. It did not matter that the mayor of a community of 25,000 was being paid nearly as much as the mayor of a city of 500,000. Where money is involved, a mayor is a mayor.
The new, more "fair" scheme selects some highly paid municipal civil servants, such as chief of police, fire department captain, etc. as benchmarks to create an average which is then multiplied by 80 per cent.
The last calculation is solely to convince the public that the elected officials do not place themselves above the people who in some manner truly serve and/or protect us.
There are two very serious flaws with this new and trumpeted process.
The positions the mayor and council have picked for comparison have their wages and benefits set by the very mayor and council that is using them to get a guaranteed annual salary increase.
And no level of government worker is receiving larger annual increases than municipal workers.
Another flaw is that the managers negotiating the wage levels for the workers also have their wages tied into the increases given to the front line staff.
Municipal government is the only level of government that has not had zero wage increase mandates, with a very few exceptions. In fact, municipal workers have become the highest paid public workers in Canada.
Little wonder that the council of Langley Township has hitched its salary wagon to the some of the highest paid positions in the municipal stable.
What a cruel and expensive injustice these elected officials have wrought, not only upon Langley Township taxpayers, but on every taxpayer in the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland. We have already seen salary increases for municipal workers in the six and seven per cent range being approved in New Westminster and Vancouver.
Other municipalities will follow suit, because, "If we don't, we will lose our best and brightest to the higher paying municipalities."
In giving these increases the mayor and council automatically give themselves the same increase, all while hiding behind the flawed process that they created.
The second serious flaw with this process is that it once again fails to consider the ability of the taxpayer to continue to pay more.
People who get into government, regardless of the level of government or their political stripe, believe that there is no limit to their ability to take from the taxpayer. Unfortunately, on this account, we taxpayers can only blame ourselves, because too few ever take the time and effort to find out what is going on and to do anything about it.
We are also too eager to look to government to provide everything. We have become the souls of our own misfortune, and the greedy keepers of the gate know it and exploit it at every opportunity.
However, elected officials have a duty of responsibility to properly manage the funds. Too many of them, like the mayor and council of Langley Township, routinely abrogate this responsibility for political and financial gain.
John Kelly, Maple Ridge
@ Copyright 2013