The brief article by Tyson Whitney in last week’s Gazette recording the various “salaries” of elected officials and staff in local government on the North Island gave no mention of any value that local government might provide, what role they play, or what regulations they are charged with upholding.
Just the gross pay of some mayors and chairs and numbers of staff that make more than 75k per year. Since context was completely lacking I would like to offer some here – currently I happen to be the Chair of the RDMW and I am serving my second term as the director for Area C.
If you live in a municipality and you like the fact that your sewage goes somewhere when you don’t want it anymore you can thank local government.
If you like the fact that when your house is on fire the volunteers who show up to help have equipment to use, you can thank local government.
There is a transit system with over 15,000 riders every year, thank local government. If you have ever been to a pool or an arena pretty much anywhere, you can thank local government.
If you think it is a good idea to have zoning regulations so you know what your neighbor is allowed to build in your sight line – local government. On community water? Is the water safe to drink? Does your garbage get picked up? Local government has significant impact on every single day you spend on the North Island.
With one of the smallest regional districts in the province we have staff and elected officials in our municipal and regional offices that spend tax payers money carefully and with a great sense of responsibility.
I work very closely with RDMW staff and it is my direct experience that innovation and in house management have saved the RDMW, and by extension the local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last five years.
From that experience I can say that while I think RDMW staff are generally well paid they are also invested in making local government work as well as possible and are constantly tweaking the system towards efficiency.
Speaking for myself the committees I sit on includes the RDMW Board, Regional Planning Committee, MW Health Network, Transit Committee, North Island Emergency Planning, Personnel Committee, Policy Committee and more.
The reading alone to keep up with these committees, especially as the regional chair, often tops ten hours per week, outside of traveling to and attending the meetings themselves.
I also visit the different communities I represent multiple times per year. I don’t do all of that for 17k annually, I do it because it is worth doing and it needs doing, and because I grow and learn from doing it. I happen to be a volunteer fire chief for pretty much the same reasons.
If I was to take that time and put it all back into my businesses my yearly income would more than double – I do not know a single elected official on the North Island doing what they do for the cheque – the cheques just barely make it possible for people to commit to the effort.
I value local government so I value the things I contribute to my community. If anyone has the idea that being a local representative is just sitting around waiting for cheques this is not the case.
It is an election year in 2018 and I would encourage everyone to consider running for office. It is rewarding and valuable work, just don’t go into it with any illusions of relaxing, it is a significant and personally taxing commitment that lasts for four years.
If anyone has any questions or would like to argue the point I encourage you to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 250 949 0627.
RDMW Board Chair
Director Area C