The second annual Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Spending Watch shows the vast majority of the province’s 20 largest municipalities are overspending at unsustainable levels.
The report ranks the municipalities based on 2003-2013 inflation-adjusted operating spending growth and 2013 per capita spending. The worst ranked have a real operating spending growth far greater than the population growth.
In the 20 largest municipalities collectively, population grew by 9 per cent between 2003 and 2013, while inflation-adjusted spending rose by 38 per cent, approximately four times quicker. The Town of Bay Roberts was ranked as the best municipality for fiscal sustainability based on 2003-2013 real operating spending per capita and 2013 operating spending per capita. Happy Valley-Goose Bay was the only community (out of those selected) to record a decline in real operating spending per capita (-3%) between 2003 and 2013.
CFIB made several recommendations for the municipalities, including:
- Limit increases in operating spending to no more than inflation and population growth.
- Adopt a benchmark by which to measure operating spending performance.
- In all cases, review current programs and services and consider contracting non-core services out to the private sector.
- Implement formal long-term infrastructure plans as has been announced by the City of St. John’s.
- Ensure greater transparency of financial information by posting the audited consolidated financial statements from each municipality on their websites by July 30 of the following financial year (Municipalities Act, 1999requires statements to be submitted to the responsible provincial Minister by June 30 of the following financial year).
- Maintain compensation systems that are sustainable and better compare with those of private sector workers.
CFIB also recommended the provincial government:
- Improve its approach (e.g. adopt a provincial infrastructure strategy) to incorporate long-term infrastructure planning by the municipalities.
- Cooperate with the municipalities in a transparent and accountable manner to determine the best value-for-money option for infrastructure development and renewal.
- Continue to implement accountability measures at the departmental level, but consider an independent process (e.g. Municipal Auditor General) to monitor and review municipal government spending.
To find out how your municipality fared, please click the appropriate link below: