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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read