EDITORIAL: Fees provide election fodder

A burgeoning consultants’ tab for the City of White Rock must be a concern for residents

burgeoning consultants’ tab for the City of White Rock must be a concern for residents – and particularly for those seeking votes in this month’s civic election.

Figures released by financial services director Sandra Kurylo last week show that the city’s spending on consultants’ fees crept over the $1 million mark in the first nine months of this year to reach $1,070,121 – more than twice what was spent in the same period of 2010.

There are many legitimate reasons why the figure could jump so much – including Kurylo’s suggestion that much of the expense stems from a spate of capital improvement projects currently underway.

But even if every cent spent on consultants is justified, the total figure presents the kind of optic that guardians of the public purse should be at pains to avoid.

The $1-million price tag is a nice round number, just made to order for political opportunists and those with a yen to embarass incumbents on the campaign trail.

If, as White Rock’s own policy states, consultants are employed where specific expertise is not available in house, the figure suggests – or could be made to suggest – the small city has a $1-million shortfall in know-how among its staffers. Defenders of city spending will argue, of course, that it isn’t cost effective to require city staff to have expertise in every conceivable situation.

Some projects, it’s true – particularly those involving funds contributed by other levels of government – have a statutory requirement that a consultant be hired.

In others, the presence of a consultant may truly be the best guarantee of limiting the city’s legal liability or ensuring that advice is independent and objective.

The other policy stipulation that could have led to the expense is potentially more troubling – that hiring a consultant provides the best way around tight or unexpected deadlines.

In the hands of an opponent, such reasoning could smack of poor planning and quick fixes rather than responsible use of tax dollars. The city, it could be argued, is in the throes of a consultancy habit, or dependency, as debilitating as any individual addiction.

The truth of the matter probably falls somewhere closer to responsible spending than profligacy. But White Rock politicians would be wise to try even harder to limit such expenditure in future – particularly in a city whose financial viability has been repeatedly called into question.

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: 5X Festival takes over Surrey’s Central City plaza

Second annual event draws thousands of people throughout the day

City shifts proposed transit station to King George after cancellation of LRT

Council to consider Newton Town Centre plan in fall

VIDEO: Plane makes forced landing on Highway 17 in Surrey

Police say no one was injured and no damage to aircraft or vehicles

Nearly 200 motorcycles take off from Cloverdale for Brenden’s Ride

Annual fundraiser supports programs that empower people with disabilities

Surrey Schools estimates $350K for tampon, pad dispenser installation

District aims to have equipment set up by October or November

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Pride flag taken down by Township of Langley

Woman said she was told it was removed from her front yard because of a complaint

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read

l -->