Raising a stink
I wish to address the issue of automatic annual raises for our city councillors ("Brampton delays Halifax council's pay raise," Reality Bites by Jacob Boon, posted January 20 at thecoast.ca). As a taxpayer it is insulting to me to watch year after year three percent, four percent and higher salary increases for HRM councillors earning $80,000-plus. And salary increases for the mayor earning $160,000 are double the increase for what councillors receive!
The average salary for workers in Nova Scotia is $43,000. It has been reported salaries in HRM are much higher at $50,000. I attribute this to a higher concentration of government workers.
I do not understand why there has to be a special formula looking at "comparable cities and municipalities across Canada" when it comes to justifying what the increase for HRM councillors should be. Many unionized wage earners receive salary increases of about two percent, while non-unionized workers can go years without a salary increase, especially those on minimum wage. Pensioners who are indexed and supposedly receive cost of living increases in recent years have actually received less than one percent.
The taxpayers of HRM have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to needless infrastructure improvements such as a convention centre, four-pad rinks and traffic circles, and now are being asked to supply $65 million to tear down the Cogswell Street Interchange so that some favoured developer/developers can put up fancy condominiums to enrich themselves.
Provincially, taxpayers have been suckered into paying hundreds of millions for ferries, Bluenose III, pulp mills, a shipbuilding facility and what has become known as a billion-dollar boondoggle for an undersea power cable.
But this province is on the brink of bankruptcy. In Cape Breton, one in three families is living in poverty. Halifax has one in five families living in poverty, with 2,500 homeless people on the streets. Many of the the working poor are living in bedbug-, cockroach- and rodent-infested substandard housing.
For me the formula is simple: We should not be looking at other Canadian cities that are richer or larger in population to decide what the salary for councillors should be. Being one of the poorest provinces in Canada, councillors' salaries should reflect the small increases of the average worker, and maybe even a wage freeze in order to close the widening gap that exists between them and the underprivileged that exists in this province.
Other proponents in favour of salary increases for councillors say taxpayers should not get too upset over the $80,000 salary that councillors receive since it only amounts to 11 cents a week per taxpayer. Well, if councillors' salaries increase to $120,000 and it only costs 14 cents, will that be justifiable, as well? The average worker and pensioners are often told they have to share the pain when it comes to economic austerity. Well, it is about time all publicly elected officials share the same pain. —Gary MacLeod, Halifax
Tame that tune
Awesome! Another Coast article letting us know that our live music scene needs help and that some "industry pros" are leading the charge ("A live music strategy for Halifax might be on its way," The Scene by Rebecca Dingwell, posted January 18)! Haven't seen too much of "councillor Waye Mason" out on the dance floors lately, but I guess we're in good hands. Oh, and in other music news, congratulations to:
Like A Motorcycle on their tour announcement to Germany. (Again.) Ria Mae on her Juno nomination. PINEO & LOEB for their recent, top-secret record label signing. Mauno for both a record and booking agent snag. Rain Over St. Ambrose on charting nationally on every friggin' university station. Cold Smoke 2017 and everyone involved there for having another year of ALL LOCAL musicians and almost selling out one of the biggest rooms we have in the city without investing in a stadium/convention centre. Hillsburn for receiving Emerging Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Biggest congrats of ALL goes out to EVERY SINGLE artist out there struggling to survive and thrive in a city that's constantly telling you YOUR "scene" isn't good enough and that THEY are going to fix it for you! —Kyle McCracken, lead singer of Dub Kartel