CVRD budget decisions stalled for two weeks
Capping senior staff salaries, directors declining a salary increase and allowing the public decisions on grant-in- aid allocations was among discussion Wednesday night at the Cowichan Valley Regional District board meeting.
Budget talks drew a packed crowd to the boardroom but any formal decisions will now be delayed after a motion was made for another budget meeting on March 27.
That motion came after Shawnigan Lake Director Bruce Fraser surprised the board with 15 motions to help the CVRD cut its proposed $84.8 million budget that’s $14 million above the current budget.
“What we’ve done so far is just add and add and add and that’s not fiscally responsible,” said Fraser at the four-hour meeting. “We have to look systematically at what we can do to bring the budget down.”
Fraser’s motions included a cap on senior staff salaries that are over $100,000, and that those salaries remain at last year’s level rather than be increased.
He also wants grant-in-aid allocation to be decided by the public, and that process would be incorporated into election campaigns.
Fraser also proposed fellow directors forego a stipend increase for the rest of the year, and proposed the subsidy amount for directors’ major meeting attendance be halved.
He said the latter could be delivered through the prospect of directors “carpooling” to specific meetings or by “staying with friends” to minimize expenses costs and hotel coverage that is guaranteed.
“(These motions are) to illustrate that we have to cut the suit to fit the cloth,” he said. “We can’t keep dipping into the taxpayer’s pocket just because we think we are more important.”
Mill Bay/Malahat Director Mike Walker commended Fraser’s intentions.
“I see some merit in what director Fraser has written. This could be doable, if it’s within the will of this board,” said Walker.
Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls director Ian Morrison was not so keen, due to time constraints.
“I don’t want to be in the boat of ‘this is too late’ but our staff have spent a worthy amount of time working on a budget that we have gave them direction with. I don’t think we should re-access that,” said Morrison.
The next CVRD budget meeting to be held March 27 at 4 p.m. will bring about a rush for decision finalization ahead of the March 31 deadline, when the budget has to be filed to the province.
“We need everything on the table then,” said CVRD chairman and Ladysmith Mayor Rob Hutchins.