What does the European debt crisis and Keremeos Village Council have in common?
Depending on your point of view, a similar mindset might be an answer.
Council’s insistance on generous parting gifts for village employees strikes us as similar to the mindset of those European countries facing bankruptcy over an excessively expensive civil service, where years of creating an increasingly priviliged public sector has become economically impossible to continue paying for.
In an economic period where private sector wages and benefits ( read: taxpayer) are being slashed, frozen or held to increases that are less than the cost of living, it cannot be justified to provide gratuitous bonuses to employees paid out of the public purse who hold very reasonable wages and security, in addition to being protected by strong unions.
Note that this discussion is not about merit; Keremeos village employees are a capable, hard-working group that deserve appreciation as much as anyone.
Clint Eastwood’s character William Munny, in the movie Unforgiven, summed it up nicely:
“Deserves got nothing to do with it.”
That is the issue.
We are sure that if the village did a survey regarding parting gifts for employees by looking at private sector business practice in the Lower Similkameen, they would come up with very different results than what they gathered from their survey of municipalities. Those results, we feel, would provide a closer version of the true reality of this issue.
We seriously doubt that this is a big concern with village employees, who realize that they have some of the highest paying and most secure jobs in the valley.
It was ironic to note that in the same meeting where this issue came up, a shortfall of several thousands of dollars in building inspection revenues was noted six months into the 2011 financial year. At the same time, the budget also contains an awards and gifts fund that is flush with almost $8,000 in it.
There really shouldn’t be any debate over this issue at all.