Penny Ballem, Vancouver City manager, sent an email to all staff late Friday afternoon announcing that there was now a freeze on hiring for all staff positions.
Ballem explained that City revenues over the past several months have been far lower than predicted due to a decline in development. If this situation continues, according to Ballem, taxpayers will be hit with at least an 11 % property tax increase. At least.
Ballem was instructed by Council a couple of weeks ago -- when residential taxpayers were bracing for a mere 6-8% increase -- to look closely at all City departments and agencies and cut the fat.
Vision Councilor Raymond Louie expressed concern last week, according to 24 Hr. newspaper, that the residential tax increase could result in less support amongst taxpayers for services.
Too much of what the tax payer is funding are 'disservices', projects that disempower people: like CUPE members writing security reports about non-violent people at Carnegie, then passing them on to clerical staff paid twenty-something dollars an hour to type them in to the City's "Security" database, and then arranging follow-up meetings between Security boss Skip Everall, Carnegie Director Ethel Whitty and Assistant Director Dan Tetrault -- meetings which sometimes include the targeted individual, sometimes not -- and those meetings breed further follow up meetings. Multiply this by hundreds of people a year. And then add on the hours staff spend discussing who is suspected of blogging about these security abuses, and then add on the hours it takes to constantly brief staff -- even the librarian in the VPL "reading room" that doesn't need a librarian -- about who is suspected of squealing to Joe taxpayer via blogs. And factor in that much of this "security" work is overseen by Skip Everall, a man who shows up to work wearing Bermuda shorts through cold snaps and snow falls. Do you feel secure?
These and other make-work projects for CUPE members at Carnegie continue while the soup bowls in the cafeteria are no longer filled to anywhere near the brim. And people buying dinners keep asking, "Who shrunk the portions?"
None of this is likely to change. CUPE brought Vision to power and Vision brought Penny Bellam to power, and they, like Mulroney, know that, 'You dance with the lady what brung ya'.
So the tax increase will be 11%. At least.