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REPORTING · 23rd April 2015
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat City Council kicked off on Monday, April 20th with a presentation from Frank Mauro considering the increase in his property taxes over the last couple of years.

“I was here a couple of Monday’s ago and I came as a concerned citizen. I have been in Kitimat for 56 years,” said Mauro . “You have all my taxes which I paid, and were stamped with the D-O-K stamp. They hadn’t gone up $850 in four years but, in three years, $785.”

He expressed he took issue with staff members who were laughing at him. He did apologize for his error at the last meeting.

He told Council he did not mind the increase in taxes. However, as a retiree of the District of Kitimat, he was insulted by a comment made by Mayor Germuth, that the workers would not make a wage comparable to a Rio Tinto Alcan wage.

“I have to remind that, that I negotiate for 32 years with the District. We were a times, for a few years, 10 cents above Alcan wages. Then we kept a relationship of ten cents below. Our District workforce used to be 60 employees. Now, according to what I hear, it’s only 19 employees,” said Mauro .

Mauro told Council how lucky the community was for there to be no serious medical emergencies during February’s snow storm. He explained they used to clean the town with 5 graders, 5 blowers and 3 sidewalk blowers. he told Council there were only two shifts out during the storm.

He explained former Municipal Manager Trafford Hall made $163,000 at the time he was dismissed. Currently, CAO Ron Poole makes $213,000 including expenses. He wondered why there was no public meeting to discuss this raise.

Mauro asked if Council was going to reduce his taxes this year, explaining while assessments are going up, housing sales are going down. He expressed he has had no services in the last two months.

He stated he may have to leave Kitimat some day, but he enjoyed living in Kitimat. “I love Kitimat, Kitimat is home to me. If I had my choice, I would stay here,” said Mauro . “I would like to see this contract settled and the workforce come back to the work crew with dignity and respect.”

He said he would not mind paying 12% extra on his taxes and instructed Council, if they could afford to pay the staff, they could also afford to pay the workforce.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff asked if Mauro had remembered to include the school taxes in his calculations. Feldhoff stated the school taxes have gone up substantially in Kitimat. Mauro said he simply looks at how much he pays each year, so he does not know how it breaks down.

“As long as I get the service, I have no complaints about paying the tax, because in order to have good service, we need to have a tax base,” said Mauro .

He told Council the longest strike in the time he worked for the District lasted two weeks. However, they bargained for 16 hours a day. He is aware that neither side of the issue has done much bargaining.

Feldhoff also asked about how many people it took to operate the snow blowers at the time Mauro had reflected upon during his presentation. Mauro told him they were operated by two people. Feldhoff stated with the technology, only one person was needed to perform the job.

Mauro reminded Feldhoff there was also a decrease in equipment. The current equipment requires one man to operate.

Germuth stated the amount of workers at the yard has not changed in 20 years. “There has been no decrease in the past 20 years,” said Germuth.

Municipal Treasurer, Steve Christiansen stated he has heard the District is not providing services. He disagreed. While it is true they are not cleaning up the gravel, issuing building permits or cleaning up damage from the snow clearing, they are providing sewer, water, lighting, drainage, sidewalks, garbage clean up and roads.

He told Council the District is still providing fire protection, RCMP and Ambulance services.

“I cannot see where people are saying we’re not providing services,” said Christiansen.
Comment by New Resident on 24th April 2015
Dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power.

You said it yourself.

Someone is lying to us all.
Comment by L C McGee on 24th April 2015
Im curious what the new resident commenting above means by corruption? Many cities, municipalities and towns have labor issues at one time or another. They can become contentious, but where is the corruption? The definition of corruption ""
1.dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power, typically involving bribery "" I wasn't aware of any bribery or fraudulent conduct. Just two different sides of a labor issue. Period. You call yourself a new resident so I will enlighten you, we may be having a labor dispute , a very contentious one, but none of the people involved are corrupt. Most have lived in this community for a long time, we know their personal characters and have dealt with most, on both sides of this dispute. They may not agree, they may make mistakes, they may be saying and doing things in a way we don't agree with, but none of them, on either side of this issue, are corrupt. They are our friends and neighbors trying to resolve difficult issues, and do their jobs as they see them.
job reviews warranted !
Comment by kitimat first on 23rd April 2015
to say I'm disappointed in kitimat is an understatement ! its the politicians or so called politicians and management of this town who are disappointing with their so called egos, lies and backstabbing to only benefit themselves and pocketbooks ! its embarrassing and they should be embarrassed themselves because they are making themselves look like fools to the rest of us ! what you really are showing me is that the highly educated and paid politicians and management of this city are not worth the money we pay them, we don't pay you to be ridiculed or laughed at but to manage this city which all of you are failing badly at !
Comment by Long Time Resident on 23rd April 2015
Being a long time resident of this town, I too am disgusted by the antics performed by the Mayor and Council. Mario Feldoff looking down his nose at everyone at the council meetings like he's high and mighty, with a smirk on that face. Edwin Empinado too busy to look up from his tablet. These people pay YOUR wages. Have a little respect, listen to their concerns. They all listened to you when you were giving your lip service at election time.
Dissapointed with Kitimat
Comment by New Resident on 23rd April 2015
Having moved here in the last year, I am very saddened to see and hear the relationship between the management of this town and the people who make it what it is. I am equally saddened that our mayor; a local guy that I sadly and regretably voted for, approved the decision to give our workers an ultimatum for accepting the districts final offer and then went ahead and allowed the bargaining progress to be reset. Seeing the way this strike has been managed by people who should know better and are being paid well enough to know better is utterly disappointing. I, as a new resident of this beautiful town have a lot of regrets for coming here now (not for the town and its residents, but for the corruption, greed and poor management). And to think that i came here to settle down and raise my family here. I would have to be nuts to want to raise a child in a town as corrupt, greedy and poorly managed as this one.
Well i can tell you this, consider me one resident who does know better and will be leaving this town as quickly as i came. I hope i am not the only one who knows that there are much better managed places to live than this in the province.
Mister Mayor, have fun running this town into the ground, hopefully you will not be doing it with my tax dollars for much longer.
Leadership step up
Comment by Rob on 23rd April 2015
For Mayor and council do you not think for a moment to be sincere about the actions of their staff members, is the position to laugh at a member of your community for bring up information and questions at Council meeting! Do you not believe that emotional understanding and there for emotional control plays a large part in how the public perceives the District, and its representatives!
Frank Mauro put a point of interest towards Mayor and Council which under “Robert’s rule of 0rder” “He expressed he took issue with staff members who were laughing at him.” He did apologize for his error at the last meeting. What a big difference $850 to $785 and they laughed, are your staff aware of the tax increases and to laugh on a point of inquire is shame full.
The comments of Municipal Treasurer, Steve Christiansen shows his lack of knowledge in affairs of the community. I know it’s a urban myth about how in Kitimat sidewalks are rolled up every night; but I don’t think it helps to dispel the myth by Municipal Treasurer Steve Christiansen for taking credit that the sidewalks just are in situ.
For the lighting again the last time I looked BC Hydro takes care of the street lights, but it’s nice to see others take credit for others work, but after all he only sees numbers on paper. So his comments to Mr. Frank Mauro seem to be a on the lofty side!
Now for garbage pick-up well that’s been contracted out but if Steve wishes to I’m sure they would love for him (they)to assist them in some physical work, but be careful Steve your back is not use to this work!
Now for the roads, Steve you seem to be a very literal; the roads you (they) just can’t get enough credit. Steve Christiansen ability to paint such a broad landscape of the overreaching command and control over of the town “He told Council the District is still providing fire protection, RCMP and Ambulance services” these are also under contract and its nice he believes that without his and others in the District that these extensions of our community will be out as well. Thank you for your muse in theater.
Let it be known that dialogue is not part of the process but using the media to gain public support is, as Mayor and managers are showing at this very time, they are running things just fine!” Municipal Treasurer, Steve Christiansen stated he has heard the District is not providing services. He disagreed” & “I cannot see where people are saying we’re not providing services,” said Christiansen. so does that mean the rest of the District operations are up and running for public use the labour dispute over? Are they that out of touch; that the actors in this theater production want us the public to see all is great “I cannot see where…” all the services are ready for your use!! Really this is the words of the treasure and the Mayor and council did not place a comment to explain that all is not well?
I guess if in council chambers one can react to pressure with outbursts, like in previous session; anything goes the visceral attacks by both sides. From within the Districts position to finish the contract and allow the community to move forward it seems listening and leading the community to a higher standard will not be accomplished without removing the emotions. As you can see from the very myopic understanding of the District Treasure; myopic: unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted. 3. lacking tolerance or understanding;
For without emotional intelligence the visceral outpouring that was demonstrated lacks the ability to see past one’s own emotions, until you can remove the personal uptake into the situation you will never represent the community of the whole. This goes to all parties involved.
It’s time to show the community the leadership qualities from both sides; you will make the difference this community deserves.
Services not provided and safety
Comment by Vern on 23rd April 2015
Part of our taxes are used to run the ice rinks, swimming pool and river lodge rec. centre , so if we can not use them that is a service not provided.

Of big concern to me is the gravel on the road which sooner or later will cause someone on a bike or motorcycle to slide and crash, at the bus stops huge amounts have built up and someone getting onto or off a bus will slip. This is a major safety issue and it is just a matter of time before someone is injured.