DemocracySTORM: What YOU thought Rossland should spend LESS money on

Andrew Bennett
By Andrew Bennett
February 10th, 2013

Below are 50 categories into which I put people’s responses to the question, What should Rossland spend LESS money on?

Separate articles address the questions: What should Rossland spend MORE money on? What other key points should council consider before passing the budget? And we also address concerns people have raised about DemocracySTORM.

The categories listed below are in alphabetical order, accompanied by more detailed (and uncensored) input some respondents chose to give. I did not contribute my own ideas.

You can vote on your favourite ideas by following this link and entering a name and email, or by subscribing to the Rossland Telegraph newsletter. The polls are open until midnight on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Rossland should spend LESS money on:

Administration and management—CAO’s salary

“When our CAO (etc.) makes more money than the CAO (etc.) of a city of well over 20,000 people elsewhere in Canada, and our Council keeps talking about the need to reduce expenses and taxes, it really makes me wonder.  Rossland is a wonderful place to live and many people accept less money in order to live here — far from demanding more.”

“Salaries of management, particularly CAO and city clerk.”

“Salaries of city employees.  The CEO and his assistant’s salaries too high”

“Administration costs, staff salaries (especially at the manager, CEO level), etc are way to high, regardless of any comparative analysis with other communities.”

Administration and management—consultants and reviews

“Eliminate or significantly reduce spending on “consultants”, reviews. Sustainability Commission should be canceled outright. There are far too many reviews and studies going on and not enough action. Makes it look like things are getting done, and that issues are addressed, and public concerned considered. More direct democracy would be better, and through shorter time periods for more direct results. Funds should be taken from this item and spent directly on projects instead.”

Administration and management—legal fees fighting their own citizens

Administration and management—cut to 10% of total operations cost

“Budget spent on admin at near 16% seems high”
“Administration of city costs (should be 10% total op cost)”

“The administration system and top-heavy governance structure in our City is an irresponsible use of taxpayers’ money. The salaries / bonus packages are extravagant for a community of our size. Less high level administrators and more people working on the ground to get things done, please!”

“Start running City Hall like a business! If Frank Stronic ran Magna International like this City Hall is being run, He would have been bankrupt many years ago! The wage scale and number of employees in city hall is totally ridiculous!”

“Staffing – Do more with less.  Work more efficiently.”

“Administrative and office workers salaries”

“Way too many paid way too much beyond ridiculous, abserd!”

Administration and management—printing, photocopying, and other city hall expenses

“It is ridiculous how much money is spent for administering a town of 3000 people.  I lived in a community of 3000 people and we had 1 representative on the Regional district to bring forth our issues and any other issues were settled by forming different committees.  Rossland, Trail, Warfield & Fruitvale should be combined, since running a region of 20,000 would not be much more than running a town of 3000.”

“Now that the City has most residents’ email address because of water/sewer billing, they could cut printing bills way back by emailing out City Newsletters, NOL newsletters, and possibly other documents. Small amounts could still be photocopied to pick up at City Hall by those with no email.

Administration and management—reduce office staff

“We have to many people in city hall”

“We r way over staffed in most part way over paid eg. T Butler ridiculous”

“Cutting office staff from 10 to 7 cutting wages of non degree in half!”

Administration and management—salaries and benefits in general

“I’m talking the salaries over a 100,000$ . can we afford those??”

“Bureaucracy, overpaid city staff.”

“The administrative staff seem to be overpaid”

“Staff wage costs not supportable for a small population. consider pooling resources with other communities (ie Fruitvale has an excellent admin team; Regional District has good planners; Columbia Basin Trust has resources to promote sharing across boundaries; Highways has subdivision planners”

“Admin staff – careful hiring – I hate seeing us waste money on legal costs
and severance for getting rid of people. (IT HAPPENS TOO OFTEN)”

“From what I have read recently, the wages and benefits for City Employees is out of spec when compared against their peers in other regional administrations.”

“Financial Staff Wages and Benefits: We have very little detail about what that entails, but it seems like a lot of money being spent to look after our revenues and expenses.  It seems to me there is either too much staff, or some people are very well compensated, or maybe there aren’t as efficient as they could be.  But really I’m just guessing here.  That’s why sometimes democracy doesn’t work to micro-manage.  That’s why we elect leaders – to take the time to inform themselves and make decisions on our behalf.  We the people either don’t have access to the necessary info, or we just can’t be bothered to take the time to educate ourselves to be able to make the informed decision that needs to be made.”

“Staff wages – transparent on increase %”

“Administration. Too many people being paid way too much.”

“Management salaries”

“Salaries of, for example, Manager of Public Works, and Clerk/Assistant CAO, are out of line with comparable averages paid elsewhere in BC.”

“Admin. salaries appear out of line with comparable work in private sector
Supply and demand may dictate current levels. Can the city work with UBCM to increase numbers of people trained? Or persuade us remuneration is justified?People resent paying others disproportionately to what they can earn themselves.”

“Administration officials are necessary, but concentrate on not adding too many.”

“Wages for senior city hall staff are extremely high. The secretive nature of the hiring of new administrator and then the wage increase of clerk are insulting.”

“Fewer chiefs, more Indians!”

“Fat salaries and benefits for staff”

“Staffing costs, rates of pay and benefits”

“Duplication of staff from council to council without ever having or likely to get the

“We are a small town but we pay salaries commensurate with major metropolitan areas.”

“City staff and benefits”

Administration—town planning staff

“There appears to be duplication of staff in the planning dept. This makes no sense when there is very little new development.  A planner + assistant planner is a waste of money in this market.”

“Reduce the Planning function -way over-staffed for likely demands.”

“Staff engineers and excessive planners. No need to have an engineer on staff, as they cannot be useful for more than they are educated for. Hiring private when needed would be more effective.”

[Note: There is no city engineer on staff.]

“It seems to me that we spend too much money carrying out this task.  I do not believe that it should be a full time position.  We have an OCP that was very expensive to produce.  How much extra planning can it take to bring this plan to fruition?”

Administration and management—Tracey Butler’s salary.

“Tracy doesn’t deserve doctor wages. Not that doctors do…”

“Combining CFO/CAO position made sense. Giving stupendous raise to Dep CAO/CO was beyond stupid. Would have been better off to hire a solid manager and a number of subordinate workers from a productivity point of view.”

“Nothing personally against Tracey – I don’t know her well enough to comment on her competency in her job, but her salary is at the level of those in the region with master’s degrees who manage far bigger budgets and far more staff. Tracey doesn’t even have an undergraduate degree, and has never gained experience at any other municipalities. Normally when someone is offered a position above their level of education, they’re offered a much lower wage, with the option to go higher as education increases. We seem terribly desperate when it comes to our upper level management. Hire a CAO without posting the position and give her everything she asks for including an extended break at the beginning of her tenure, during budget time; and move up the corporate officer into a position she’s not qualified for. Are we that undesirable a community? I don’t think so. Is everything Laurie Charlton’s fault? Maybe some of it, but definitely not everything.”

Analyzing expenses and efficiencies

“Our taxes are not as huge a problem as our crumbling infrastructure, and we’d be better off devoting more time and effort to fixing the infrastructure deficit  with the tax dollars we collect — instead of worrying about what services to spend less money on.”

Buildings which do not have high or significant use (e.g. museum)

“Unused buildings like museum”

Bylaw enforcement

“Our community has the ability to be pretty good at “self-policing”. The cost associated with bylaw enforcement seems to be unwarranted / ineffective anyways.”

Capital plan debt payments

“Keep at same rate as of 2012”

“General capital fund”

Community groups and programs in general

“Any community programs for adults which require excessive funding”

Community groups—special interest groups with less than “X%” of the population

“Cutting funding to all specific user groups. Unless there is a non sexist,  non racist, non secular basis they should not be funded…..”

Community groups—waiving city taxes

“Waiving City taxes completely this is a cost to the city services provided
Everyone including non profits have to factor in a portion for taxes. It doesnt have to be a lot but no group should be completely waived.Seniors/Golden Bear/Thrift shop/Rotary healt/Museum all still need services. Not a money generator but pay something”

Community group—Bear aware

Community group—Chamber of Commerce

“I would like to see the City at least ensuring that the chamber of commerce is providing some bang for the buck.   Perhaps I just don’t realize the value of it, but if someone could prove to me that it brings benefits to Rossland businesses that equal or exceed the amount of the City grant, then I would withdraw this suggestion, but I have difficulty seeing much actual benefit to our businesses or the City from this organization, aside from employing a person, and I’d rather see a full-time bylaw enforcement person.  

“This is a business organization and should remain that way.”

“I know that I do not have a good understanding of how the Chamber of Commerce works but perhaps businesses should be more involved with payment for the Chamber.”

“Consolidate or pick one of chamber of commerce and tourism Rossland”

Community group—Gold Fever Follies

“Work with the Follies to reduce performance schedule so the MH is available for other events in the summer. Silly to have shows with only 7 in the audience.”

Community group—Library

“I had never entered the Rossland library until I has a child and started attending Storytime & Mother Goose.  While these programs are great, I do think that J Spearn has a point in that there is a duplication of effort between the school libraries and public library.”

Community group—Lions’ Campground.

“The campground should generate profit, not require a subsidy. End the Lion’s monopoly.”

Community group—Miners’ Hall

“Should support itself”

Community group—Museum

“Has limited interest for locals and without the underground tours, is not much different than small town museums in almost every other small town in BC.  Perhaps if the chamber of commerce and Tourism Rossland were all based out there it would be a hub to attract tourists and regular use by those organizations would subsidize some of the building operating costs?”

Community group—Neighbourhoods of Learning

“Neighbourhoods of Learning – not aware of what it is, or what we gain”

Community group—Sustainability Commission

“Consider reducing subsidy to SC slightly.”

“Kill the Sustainability Committee’s financial support  -staff with volunteers.  Input from Task Forces to be reviewed/organized but ALWAYS but passed through to Council.”

“No funding to a Sustainability Commission. Sustainability implies employment – very little action seen in this area over the past 3 years.  More focus on what really counts is needed, otherwise can the funding”

“Eliminate sustainability commission”

“Visions to actions.”

Community group–Tourism Rossland

“Cut back slightly on subsidy to Tourism Rossland and Chamber of Commerce- they should be working together and instead are getting more disconnected.”

“Again this is business based, the businesses need to support it.”

“Cost of Rental Space: Assuming the city will maintain a tie to Tourism Rossland, then they need to be in the museum building, there is synergy together.”

“No funding for Tourism Rossland unless mandate changes
Biking and skiing are seen as the only marketable attractions for Rossland.  We’re missing the boat on marketing our unique and significant heritage and history.”

Consulting fees for ideas and studies

“Studies that lead nowhere”

“Studies, we are smart enough to do our own research.”

“Consultants and contracts: When staff are dismissed for unsatisfactory performance, they should NOT be paid anything beyond their final paycheque.  To me that is rewarding bad behavior.”

“Unnecessary consultation fees”

“Do too many paid surveys/reports by independent companies – last year the
company I work for got 2 calls from 2 different companies asking to complete a survey that were almost the exact same questions!  one report was just being ended to submit to the city and the other just started!  we need to share information and if you are going to use a company to get information Use it!  before you ask for a new one! “


Cut everything by X% (e.g. 10%)

“Tell CAO to cut x% from budget and let her figure it out with her management team. Tell council to set x% from community support portion of the budget since those are political, not operational decisions.”x” can be a council decision. Staff needs to explain what impact the x% reduction on the budget will have on taxes.”

“Why is 2012 budget almost always higher then 2011 actual?”

“Test an arbitrary across the board expenses cut, then adjust to min. impact. It is simplistic to point at this or that without an understanding of the implications.  The four highest budget expense categories represent 22%, 35%, 10% and 9% (excluding reserve transfers).  What happens if each of those were cut by 5 or 10 percent?”

Fire suppression

Infrastructure—cemetery maintenance

“Seriously? Why are spending money on this?  Why $8000+ per year?  If we really feel the need to care for a graveyard, how about just cutting back the grass a few times a year.  Surely that’s not a $8000 job.  If people have some dearly departed interred there, then I say the burden to care for the graveyard should fall on them.”

Infrastructure—downtown renovations

Infrastructure—frills like the irrigation system on Columbia Ave.

Locally elected council

“It doesn’t seem as if council is able to provide answers to crucial questions (cost of upgrades; real value of some forms of spending versus others) or oversee matters like salaries/severance packages, etc. So why have one? Maybe one should face up to what’s really happening, go with a mayor/administrator team, and replace it when enough pressure builds up to institute a commission of inquiry…”

No infrastructure cuts—less money could negatively impact a service (e.g. water and sewer)

“Few areas to pare back in Rossland without severly impacting or destroying the service – e.g. roads, sewer, water”

Mayor expenses

Non-administration Non-management staff salaries

“Lower staff salaries”

“City salaries are absurdly high.”

“I think Rossland has too much staff and some paid way too much for what
they do!”

Public works—bought equipment (e.g. pick-up trucks)

“Pick up trucks! Not every worker in City Works needs to have a pickup at his disposal. Sit at the arena during coffee breaks and lunch breaks and watch the convoy of city owned vehicles going to and coming out of the city works yard. It seems that all employees have to return to the yard for coffee break. What ever happened to the days of a lunch bucket and a thermos bottle? Travel time obviously costs the tax payers huge dollars not to mention the cost of the truck, the fuel and maintenance!”

Public works—leased equipment

“Is city getting best value leasing heavy equipment? I am assuming items like graders are still leased.Leasing big cost items is highly profitable for sales companies.  Under capitalized customers lease to enable start-up.”Never never plan” financing works well for capitalists.  Does it work for the city for the full service life of equipment?”

Public works—unnecessary snow removal, maintenance

“Although I think the snow removal is excellent in the town, I think a lot of money could be saved by perhaps extending the intervals between the removal of snow downtown. I’m sure they have their reasons though.”

“Maintenance work as the mowing of the sides of the city streets in August

“Snow clearing: Make it easier by insisting on off street parking.”

Public Works—wages, benefits, overtime, staffing levels

“Consolidating city works – having Trail/Warfield/Rossland/Montrose/Beaver
Valley all with Public works yards seems a waste of money. Holidays coverages duplicate equipment/multiple storages.  This seems like a place where money could be saved somewhere along the line”

“Too many people being paid way too much. We are simply paying far too many people with overly generous wages and benefits. We need fewer people, working more efficiently and creatively, for less. There is not one City staff position that could not be filled tomorrow with somebody just as capable, more motivated and creative, for a fraction of what we are currently paying. I resent supporting the extravagant lifestyles of the chosen few.”

“Public works department”

“Have strict policy to reduce overtime pay”

“Are there ways to reduce the roads/transportation budget?”

“This area is a sacred cow- It appears to be never closely examined. It needs to undergo a serious performance audit and see if the town is really getting good value for the money spent. Consider plowing the roads less for example and save some money there.”

“Either provide better (more productive/efficient/value-added) services for the current cost, or simply keep existing service levels but lower the cost.  Currently, it seems like we spend a lot of money for not a lot of services.  A unionized City workforce is costly and has little incentive to improve.  Also, why does the Works Yard cost so much?”

“Look at the efficiency of city workers.”


“I wonder about the arena and how many people use it.”

“We need to look at whether the arena is viable for a town this size.  Much better to co-operate with Trail & share theirs. “

“The hockey arena and the curling club are subsidized to a far greater extent than their patronage would otherwise justify because of the disproportionate political influence of the “old-timers”. They should pay their way.”

“The pool, the arena and other physical assets: make them pay for themselves through user fees”

“Arena: As a single cost item it is one of if not the highest.  Buying ice time per hour is costly (I did once) but the public skating is dirt cheap.  I’ve been to holiday skating in the USA and while it is a bit of a novelty item there, you pay dearly for it.  In Houston we paid $15+ each for entry & rentals!”

“Arena should support itself”

“Does the arena justify all that money? How many use it?”

Recreation—bike trails and Kootenay Columbia Trail Society (KCTS)

“I believe that the City of Rossland has spent enough on bike trails. I am not against having the bike trails and they must be kept up but I am not sure that we need to spend as much on the trails.”

“Trails society, until it takes an all user approach.”

Recreation—city trails

“No new trail work in 2013: A lot of money and attention to trails in the past 2 years.  Take a break – encourage volunteers to pursue”

“Why is $12,500 spent on recreation trails when $19k goes to KCTS”

Recreation—Curling Rink

“How many people actually use it?”

“Curling Rink should support itself”

Recreation—Rossland swimming pool.

“Many people would hang me for thinking this, but it is a big cost for the city (therefore for us) and as it ages, the costs go up.  It seems with all of the other outdoor opportunities that don’t cost so dearly, that it’s a luxury that we could do without.  Particularly if there was a better relationship so that the Trail pool was accessible for swimming lessons and the like.”

“Pool should support itself”


Recreation—Trail Aquatic Centre

“It should be a pay for use service, and not something that is heavily subsidized by citizens who don’t use it.  Very minor subsidies might be OK.”

Regional District

“RDKB: Needs to be some careful examination of what the region spends money on. Fire service for instance is a huge expense.Economic development- do we really benefit from a regional economic effort? “

Supporting large developers

“Developers make money off large projects and should pay for the increased load on municipal services. They will argue the cost will have to be passed along to new home-owners and renters. That’s arguable, as there would also be the opportunity to explore acceptable profit margins, but, if the development does not contribute to the cost initially then all homeowners will bear the increased cost of infrastructure upgrades.”

“New developments: Rossland has at least seven “new” developments that are all still only partly filled in with houses.  There should be a moratorium on developments until the current ones are filled.  The developers should be paying all the costs of the services for these underutilised developments.  I get so frustrated and angry when I see all these new streets and lights and sewers going in which the city has to then maintain without enough taxpayers living in the developments to cover the costs of maintaining them, which means the rest of the community is paying for it.  Plus the excess means the price for all the developers is driven done because there is too much stock.  It is crazy city planning in my view to have allowed them all.  But at least don’t allow anymore.”

“Subsidies for developers.”

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