THE DISTRICT OF LANTZVILLE STAFFING AND TAXATION

Recent social media comments regarding Lantzville costs of administration are flawed and misleading. The focus of the critiques is generally too narrow and becomes personal when addressing certain positions. The employees were engaged by council, at competitive salary levels related to their experience and education. They moved their families here, enrolled their children in our schools  and do not need the uncertainty of a continuous negative tirade suggesting  they are inessential and are overpaid.  If some council members have a problem with the salary levels of public sector employees they should consider running in the next provincial election. In my opinion Lantzville council is the wrong venue and it is unproductive to make this an issue. You pay the market rate.   As my grandkids would say; get a new instrument and join another orchestra.  It does not serve the community well when one musician can play only one note.
It has been my experience,   that comparison of absolute staffing numbers, without taking into account the administrative jurisdiction’s geographical location as well as the operational structure is difficult and misleading. It often leads to the wrong conclusions.

Unlike many BC local governments, Lantzville is structurally and administratively not self-sufficient. Its location and small size in relation to its neighbours necessitates a reliance and support from Nanaimo and the RDN to provide a number of services including:  Southern Community Recreation (swimming pools and sport fields), waste water, emergency planning, building inspections, regional parks, etc.   The staffing is paid for by Lantzville but shows up in Nanaimo and the RDN head count.  Comparing our staff levels to other more self-sufficient communities which do all or part of this work work in house is statistical nonsense.

The total RDN requisition for Lantzville is approx. $800,000 annually and represents 5 to 7 equivalent employees. In addition Lantzville contracts out most of its professional and maintenance work including legal, engineering, planning road maintenance, water, sewer, snow clearance etc.  The equivalent employee count for this work is 5 or 6.  When the economy of scale makes the contracting out more expensive or for customer service reasons access is problematic, (contractors are not always accessible) council could decide to handle this work in house.  This decision would increase the staff count, but not necessarily costs. E.g. the recently dedicated planning position.

The point is that Lantzville total headcount, including existing staff, RDN and Nanaimo support and contracted out work, is in the range 20 to 25 employees considerably larger than the much discussed 12 or 14. It also puts into context the ridiculously painful council discussion to add a single planning position, which really was much to do about nothing, given that previously the work was contracted out.

A more valid and accurate measurement of financial performance is the total taxes collected per capita by local governments, with the caveat that business revenues do not add to the capita count although even then most business revenue originates within the community. This key indicator overrides structural differences and is a better analysis tool.

The following table clearly indicates Lantzville is doing very well indeed. A sample of 60 local governments places Lantzville in 8th position with a taxation rate of $ 1483 per capita.

Distinctly, the data  clearly shows that there is no relationship between the size of a community’s population and per capita  taxation levels. The characterization that growth increases per capita cost and individual taxes rates is  unfounded. The data just does not support that assumption.

It is common knowledge that larger and mid-sized communities generally provide a broader range of services at a lower cost. They do so because there is an economy of scale that cannot be matched by smaller jurisdictions. (Note Lantzville’s reliance on Nanaimo’s facilities)
The table from the lowest taxes/capita to the highest .

Source: 2016 census and BC stat.

Jack de Jong
May 2017