City watchdog says administration costs too high in Victoria

Paul Brown offers councillors arguments for cutting costs to find budget savings

The City of Victoria spends too much on administrative costs, charges former mayoral candidate and city watchdog Paul Brown.

By Brown’s calculations, the city spends a lowball estimate of 13.9 per cent of its budget on administration.

“Generally, 10 per cent is the number you shoot for,” he said.

At a time when the city is looking to cut $4.3 million from its budget over the next three years, Brown’s message is that these cuts should be to administration, not city programs and services.

Salaries are not way out of line in Victoria, he said. The problem is the number of people earning more than $75,000 a year in salary and benefits, who are likely in management rather than in service delivery, he said. Management is always considered to be an administrative cost, he added.

Brown’s presentation of his findings to council on Thursday left Coun. Chris Coleman with some questions.

Coleman, who chairs the council committee responsible for the budget, agreed with the need to do analysis to ensure the city is getting good value for dollar. He questioned, however, some of Brown’s data.

“I don’t know if Paul’s numbers are right,” he said.

For instance, Coleman asked, who established 10 per cent as the benchmark for municipal administration costs? He also pointed out that a high salary doesn’t necessary indicate an employee is in a management position.

Of 227 employees receiving more than $75,000 a year, 70 per cent are unionized positions, Coleman said.

Brown qualified his own calculations. Using different models, his estimates of city administration range from 13.9 to 21 per cent. He admitted that none of his results are exact, due to a lack of detailed information, and all include assumptions.

Despite stating that 10 per cent is a standard administrative benchmark for many organizations – in the private, non-profit, and public sector – he couldn’t name any municipal governments which achieve better efficiency.

Still, Brown said, it’s time for Victoria to take a close look at its costs. He pointed to departments such as the sustainability department and the communications department.

“Council is going to have to give up some luxuries.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Chinese Culture to light up 2019 Victoria Day Parade

Groups hopes Greater Victorians ‘view the culture, embrace the friendship’

Struggling Victoria adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Royal and McPherson Society pleads its case to Victoria council

‘Dark days’ at Royal, user groups’ weekend priorities make scheduling other entertainment challenging

Uplands Park champion to earn provincial award

B.C. Community Award for Margaret Lidkea coincides with Sunday’s volunteer celebration

Oak Bay Sgt. struggles through emotional testimony in double murder trial

Andrew Berry is charged with second-degree murder in deaths of daughters Chloe (6) and Aubrey (4)

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

Wanted by Crime Stoppers

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris should be rebuilt?

Images of one of the word’s most iconic landmarks were seared into… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Island-born Snowbirds pilot enjoying homecoming in skies over Comox

Logan Reid once stood clinging onto the fence outside the Comox Air… Continue reading

Attack on student in Courtenay ‘way more than bullying’, says mom

A Comox Valley mother said “it was way more than bullying” at… Continue reading

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read