Wildfire burden downloaded on residents

During the summer of 2017, a great many people in Prince George contributed assistance to the B.C. wildfire situation and helped with the fire refugees from Williams Lake and surrounding area. Afterwards, volunteers were applauded as were the companies and local businesses that offered assistance and financial aid. Forgotten in the concerted thank yous were the employees that made the gracious contributions from these businesses possible.

For many employees, dealing with food vouchers, increased product deliveries and many other increased duties and job expectations, it was simply a case of knuckling down and working harder to meet the added workload. In most cases, the employees of dozens of companies and the thousands of volunteers directly helping out at this time, received no financial compensation for their extra efforts, as they were simply doing their best.

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City hall has recently increased the municipal tax rate by a staggering and unprecedented amount, and has done so on the back of a recent staggering and unprecedented pay increase to senior management positions at city hall. Pay increases up to 62.1 per cent as reported by the Prince George Citizen, occurred shortly before the wildfire situation and have been justified as commensurate with the formation of new positions and duties. Essentially, the taxpayer is now responsible for paying absurd salaries to a small group of people who believe themselves to be outside the realm of accountability and deserving of self-assessed salaries.

The simply outrageous amount of the raises that senior management gave themselves is a commentary to their disregard and total lack of respect for the taxpayer and the other employees at city hall, who in all fairness, were most likely responsible for managing the increased workload that resulted from the fires.

The unprecedented nature of the raises and the sudden dramatic increase in our property taxes show a blatant and cynical misuse of the city's financial resources and a direct and corrupted view that a few individuals can hold a municipality hostage and ransom it for what is greed and over-inflated personal gain.

The province has been off-loading its federally mandated responsibilities on B.C. cities for years, rather than fighting this injustice. The City of Prince George has followed suit and forwarded the burden on its citizens.

Paying for services is one thing, subsidizing an individual's 62.1 wage hike is another.

Mike Maslen

Prince George

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