By DIETER DUDY
City Councillor, Kamloops
IN EARLY NOVEMBER of 2017 staff put forth a recommendation to council regarding a parking study for the downtown sector. To be fair staff acted on a prior recommendation from a committee.
The cost of the proposed study was to be up to $100,000. The study would have considered current parking levels and needs plus consideration for parking needs for the next 20-25 years.
Word about the proposed study reached public ears well before council had an opportunity to debate it. The response was a resounding…”Has Council lost it’s mind?”…”100K for a study? To tell us what we already know.”
Depending on your perspective we either had a parking issue or we didn’t. The point is it was $100,000 that the public did not want to spend on an issue that affects them every day. Fast forward to this last Tuesday when Coun. Cavers put forth a motion to have staff put together a review about our snow removal service.
How does it stand up to the service offered by other communities? What can we do to increase the level of service to address the concerns of some of our public?
There are many more things that would have to be looked at to ensure that a report that would ultimately come to council would not just address immediate needs but also those of the future. Council, in a vote of 7-1 voted against giving such direction to staff. Why?
Each councillor had their different reasons for voting the way they did… but in the end I think it came down to money. Needlessly spending money on a study that could have staff finding reasons to add more people and/or equipment which in turn would cost that much more money.
The response by some is that we were only asking staff for a report… how much could that cost? I suppose it depends on how many resources you want to throw at it… in other words you get what you pay for. You could have someone on staff spend some time researching other city’s snow removal programs… just the basics…. type up a report and make recommendations based on minimal information.
Cost to the city? Staff time and incidental costs. Likely the report hasn’t included all the measures needed to improve the service and the associated costs. On the other hand you could do a proper study (which takes time) which would include a breakdown of current services and costs, study on the age of equipment and replacement of such, plus maintenance costs, additional capital expenditures needed to improve services.
Add to this the research to ensure that our service is equal to if not better than other jurisdictions. That’s going to cost money… but in the end you would have a complete analysis and recommendation. Even then if the fix is too pricey then chances are that we might not implement the recommendation.
The public just may not want to spend the extra $500,000 or higher to improve a few weeks of their life each year. It’s not a case of council not caring… or being arrogant… or having their own agenda etc.
Like any other issue that comes before us… it comes down to money. If we had stated Tuesday that the study was going to cost upwards of $100,000 and that didn’t guarantee that anything would change, in the end would we still be having this discussion? If the recommendation came back with a price tag of $500,000. or a .5% tax increase do you believe most people would jump on that band wagon?
Over the next couple of months we will be finalizing the 2018 budget. We are attempting to keep the increase as low as we possibly can while still maintaining service levels while also entertaining some staff and community asks. Every year the public tells us that we spend too much and that the tax burden is too high.
It falls upon us to determine what is prudent spending and what isn’t. Do we always get it right? Maybe not, but we do our level best in trying. I would love nothing more than to provide this community with everything they ask for without raising taxes and without eliminating services. If anyone has any legitimate ways that we can achieve this goal then I’d be more than happy to listen to your advice.
This commentary by Coun. Dieter Dudy was originally posted on Facebook on Friday, Jan. 26, 2017.