EXCERPT FROM VAUGHN PALMER:  Vancouver Sun

Alternatively, how should any additional shortfall in revenues be made up? With the subsidy from senior governments, mostly provincial, approaching $200 million a year, Stone’s call for a contribution from local government echoes a similar suggestion from the independent ferry commissioner.

Not likely would local government entertain such a notion, particularly in a civic election year. But in framing his letter to the UBCM, the transportation minister was probably mindful of the findings of another recent report, one commissioned by his government as part of the cost-containment exercise known as the core review.

“Municipal employee wages grow faster than province’s,” read The Sun’s headline on that report after the findings were made public by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which had obtained a leaked copy of the provincial findings.

The report detailed how compensation for municipal workers had been increasing at up to double the rate of pay increases for provincial civil servants. The insinuation being that if local governments did a better job holding the line on wages, they wouldn’t need to beg more money from the province.

The rejoinders were not long in coming from local government. The report was inaccurate, unfair, overstated and so forth. Not as rough as what Stone said about the UBCM report on the ferries, but the gist was similar.

Still, both reports provided insights that were never going to be forthcoming from the province in the case of the ferry study, or from local government, in the case of the comparable analysis of the wage scale.

All in all, it’s no bad thing when one level of government digs into the doings of another. From a taxpayer viewpoint, one could wish they did it more often.

vpalmer@vancouversun.com

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