COURTENAY, B.C- Larry Jangula doesn’t want to lay people off.
However, the current occupant of the Courtenay mayor’s chair has indicated that he’s hoping to reduce the number of municipal staff on the city’s payroll, if he wins re-election this year.
Jangula discussed his campaign goals with the MyComoxValleyNow.com newsroom this week, after releasing out a statement that broke down part of the motivation behind his decision to seek re-election.
In the statement, Jangula said he had spoken with his family and friends, and had received encouragement from “across the community” to run again.
He also mentioned core priorities he was happy to have “championed”, such as the conclusion of the Maple Pool lawsuit, opposition to pay parking at the North Island hospital campus, and a focus on “core responsibilities” of the municipal government.
However, the statement included a mention of work still needing to be done, with a focus on rising operational expenses and taxes and concerns being raised about the number of people employed in the municipal government.
“In addition, we now have major issues concerning the long-term health and viability of our beloved airpark,” wrote Jangula.
“With rental vacancy rates near zero and an acute shortage of building lots in our city, we are facing a housing crisis that impacts many in our community. We also have our downtown core in desperate need of revitalization. These issues need to be addressed.”
Towards the end of his statement, Jangula brought up a motion he had made at a council meeting back in December focused on housing, which was defeated by council.
“Last December I attempted to bring forward a comprehensive plan to address some of these key issues, by increasing our supply of housing, streamlining our building approval process and creating a special investment zone to attract new development for our downtown core. Bringing this plan to life is still my priority,” wrote Jangula.
“After several years of significant City budget increases, I brought forward a motion to hold taxes at 2017 levels until a Core Services Review could be completed. This review will provide guidance in reducing costs, identifying tax saving measures and improving efficiencies going forward. This, also, is still a priority for me.”
The motion to hold taxes and do a review was also shut down by council.
According to Jangula, that review would look at “their entire operation”, if it went through. The move is now part of his campaign platform. He believed there were areas where private industry could be “better and cheaper” for city taxpayers, and also mentioned he wanted to see a completion of what he was trying to do with the city’s downtown.
He indicated that the goal was increased densification in the downtown area, instead of “putting basement suites all over town” to mixed reception.
“Developers tell me that when they build a building downtown, they have to have the city provide them with a sidewalk,” said Jangula, when asked for an example of a service private industry could do differently.
“The city, according to these developers, often charges considerably more. They tell me up to two times and more.”
He did not plan on raising the privatization of water treatment or sewer treatment, which would be regional issues. As for the question of reducing staff levels, Jangula stated that a “really close look” was needed to figure out whether current city staff levels were needed.
“The community, I think, feels really strongly about that,” said Jangula.
“I think if we did do that, we could do it through attrition. About 40 per cent or more of our staff are within the last three to five years of their service, I’m told, and we could basically just do it by not replacing people.”
He said he was not looking at laying people off.
As for the airpark, he planned to campaign on a goal for a 40-year lease at the site for users, after recent furor at council over the topic. Council had given approval to staff to offer a new long-term lease of five years, with three options for renewal of an additional five years each, along with the inclusion of the float plane dock and ramp in the new lease area.
“People that are there are still not convinced with what we’ve done,” said Jangula.
“They’re not happy, totally. They wanted a 40 year lease.”
He also wanted to review the level of property taxes being charged, stating that residents and businesses could not take further rises.
“They are not going to be there,” said Jangula.
Municipal elections in British Columbia take place on Oct. 20, 2018. The candidates in the Courtenay mayoral race are Jangula, current councillors Bob Wells and Erik Eriksson, and resident Harold Long.