For the Record

July 5, 2019:

Response from Mayor Bob Wells to a Letter to the Editor in the July 4, 2019 edition of the Comox Valley Record

A letter to the editor in the July 4, 2019 issue of the Comox Valley Record referencing the City of Courtenay requires some clarification.

The letter from Brennan Day contained multiple inaccuracies about Courtenay’s policing budget.

Mr. Day incorrectly states that Courtenay’s policing budget was $10 million, and that only $8.9 million was spent.

This $10 million Protective Services budget includes all protective services in the City of Courtenay. This includes fire protection, bylaw enforcement, animal control, emergency measures, building inspection, and amortization expenses related to capital assets, as well as the City’s share of expenses related to providing police protection to the Comox Valley.

The bulk of Courtenay’s contribution to the RCMP through our policing contract is for contracted services: in other words, directly funding up to 31.4 members of the Comox Valley RCMP. The City’s policing budget also includes general policing services such as prison guards and administrative support staff, as well as funding for parking enforcement, the City of Courtenay Drug Strategy Committee, and Citizens on Patrol.

The 2018 overall budget for police protection was $6,439,900. Actual 2018 spending for police protection was $5,970,521, a surplus of $469,379 – not $1.1 million as claimed in Mr. Day’s letter.

The majority of the surplus at the end of 2018 was due to member vacancies at the RCMP. While these vacancies are outside the City’s control, we appreciate this is a challenge faced by RCMP detachments across the country.

Mr. Day also incorrectly claimed that the entire policing surplus went back into general revenue, and that in addition to this, the City reduced the protective services reserve by $200,000.

In fact, the City budgets $200,000 from the Police Contingency Reserve each year to assist with funding the policing contract, as well as provide an additional source of funding in the event of major crime investigations. If staff vacancies occur, the City sets aside up to $250,000 each year until the reserve caps at $750,000. In 2018 the City did not need to use the $200,000 budgeted and set an additional $210,000 aside in the reserve, bringing the balance up to $560,000 at the end of 2018.

The City’s Financial Services team consists of highly competent, fiscally responsible staff, held to rigorous legislative and industry accounting standards, with comprehensive oversight provided through annual independent audits. I therefore find Mr. Day’s choice of words in his letter unfortunate. Any resident looking for information about the City’s budget is invited to visit www.courtenay.ca/financialplan where a user-friendly Financial Plan document helps make these complex budget figures more accessible.

As for public safety, I stand by my words that Courtenay is overall a safe community, but agree with Mr. Day when he notes the steadily increasing burden on policing in Courtenay. This is a growing community and region, and our policing must keep pace with this growth and the additional pressures that can accompany it.

What I would also point out is that by several measures, contributions toward regional policing by City of Courtenay taxpayers are already significantly higher than other jurisdictions in the region, and this disparity has increased over the past decade.

  • Courtenay pays 90% of policing costs due to our population size, vs. 70% or less for other smaller or rural jurisdictions in the region.
  • Courtenay also funds more RCMP members per capita than other funding partners in the region. (roughly 50% more RCMP members per capita)
  • As of 2018, Courtenay’s research indicated that the City’s per capita policing budget was significantly higher than other funding partners in the region. By our estimate, nearly double. 
  • Courtenay has increased our member strength by five since 2008. This is, again, a significantly higher increase than the detachment’s other funding partners.

While gaming revenue helps offset some of these costs by funding two RCMP members each year, and traffic fine revenues provide additional funding, the balance is funded from general tax revenue.

We appreciate our excellent relationship with the RCMP and everything they do to support and protect the Comox Valley, and we will continue working together to support our shared goal of a safe and healthy community.

 

September 4, 2018:

Newspaper Advertisement Incorrect

A recent ad in the Comox Valley Record contained incorrect information about the City of Courtenay budget and five year financial plan.

According to the ad, the 2022 budget of $69,269,000 was “82% greater than the 2012 budget of $38,165,560”. This is incorrect.

The correct percentage increase between 2012 and 2022 for the Consolidated Operating and Capital Expenses is 19.2%.

The actual budget figures are as follows:

Expenses

2012 Budget

Projected 2022 Budget

Operating Expenses

37,128,755

54,697,400

Capital Expenses

20,973,268

14,571,900

Total Consolidated Expenses

58,102,023

69,269,300

The City of Courtenay’s property taxes are within the range of comparable local governments: 
June 23, 2018 Black Press article “Taxing Vancouver Island” comparing 28 municipalities

Review the City of Courtenay’s 2018-2022 Financial Plan at www.courtenay.ca/financialplan

 

August 15, 2017: 

Statement from Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula:

Open discussion, debate and deliberation are essential in a healthy democracy, and I am very proud to participate in the democratic process at the City of Courtenay.

We recognize the importance of this process and freedom of speech. We also believe it is important to correct the public record from time to time so that our community has accurate and timely information.  

That’s why we have established this new page on our website. Our goal is to identify and correct any incorrect information, and help set the record straight. While we will continue to provide information to our citizens through the media and our social media, there are times when additional clarification is needed.

This has been the case recently with some anonymous ads that contain incorrect statements about some members of City Council and senior staff. As a result, here are a few examples of incorrect information we wish to clarify and correct, for the record.     

Conference Attendance Incorrect                      

A newspaper ad that ran on June 15, incorrectly stated that City of Courtenay CAO David Allen attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference, along with some members of Council.

In fact, Mr. Allen did not attend the FCM Conference. Mr. Allen was invited to speak at the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) Conference on the City’s asset management practices, and how we manage our infrastructure and our assets for the benefit of our current and future citizens. The CAMA conference is held annually in advance of the FCM Conference. As an invited speaker, the majority of Mr. Allen’s expenses for the trip were paid for by FCM, not the City of Courtenay.

Staffing and Services

A previous newspaper ad on May 18 provided incorrect information, stating that the number of employees at the City of Courtenay has grown to over 50 management staff in 2017.

In fact, the City of Courtenay has 31 managerial staff, with three to be added in 2017.  

With regard to salaries, each year, all local governments in British Columbia release information on staff that earned over $75,000 in the previous year. Being included on this list does not necessarily mean these employees are management. For example, some staff surpassed this threshold due to overtime and standby hours worked. Public safety issues such as snowstorms and flood alerts, or emergency utility repairs such as water main breaks, are examples of situations that may result in overtime.

The City of Courtenay bases employee compensation on several factors, including fair market rates offered by other comparable local governments as well as contractual obligations with unionized employees. The City employs around 180 full-time, part-time, and casual employees. If we include summer students, volunteer firefighters, and instructors at Courtenay Recreation, this number increases to over 300.

For the Record

If you have questions about something you have read or heard, we will do our best to provide clarification or corrections that may be required on this new For the Record page.

And as always, I encourage citizens looking for information about the City of Courtenay to visit our website, to contact their Council representatives or send us an email to info@courtenay.ca