Friday, February 24, 2006

Richter Report - February 24, 2006

Communication Costs

So let’s talk about communication: the costs of and the threats to communication with the taxpayer. It was a primary issue yesterday at the “Council & Senior Staff Workshop” session facilitated by an external consultant (cost unknown at this point). Theoretically, the purpose of this session was the budget.

Now, if the purpose of this workshop was to determine what Council’s spending priorities will be over the next 3 years, do you think the public should be privy to what Council thinks it should spend your money on?

I do. But, unfortunately, there was no member of the local media or public present.

Also, I’m shocked (judging by the comments of my “fellow” councillors) that they still don’t understand the importance of public scrutiny in this regard. Specifically, one of the councillors had the gall to suggest that we keep “the contents of this meeting in this room” (i.e. in camera). I’ve had enough of this Old Boys Club Secrecy. I’ve told them before and I’ll tell them again: it’s against my nature and principles to ‘keep everything in the school yard locker room’ (so to speak), mainly because I’m not sure why we need a locker room (unless it’s for “Personnel, Property, or Liability” reasons – none of which were discussed yesterday).

However, bearing in mind their sensitivities, I will forgo the copious notes I made during this session for the moment. Instead, I will speak in generalities.

So, on the topic of communications: how much do you think the Township should communicate with you? Do you think that the Township is doing a good job on this? Do you think that the Township should advertise as much as they do in the local papers and just how much is the Township Page in the local papers worth to you?

To help you answer these questions, here’s some interesting facts and figures.

In 1996, the Township spent $151,622 on advertising. This was split as follows:

Langley Times...........$ 84,655
Aldergrove Star...........14,186
Langley Advance.........52,780
TOTAL......................$151,622

In 2005, the Township spent $344,059 on advertising. This was split as follows:

Black Press (Langley Times & Aldergrove Star).......... $237,678
Langley Advance.........................................................106, 381
TOTAL.......................................................................$344,059

The amount spent on advertising per year was:

  1. $151,622...1996

  2. 173,253...1997

  3. 177,150...1998

  4. 173,078...1999

  5. 193,099...2000 (Alberts' first year as Mayor)

  6. 254,511...2001

  7. 241,218...2002

  8. 248,121...2003

  9. 308,075...2004

  10. 344,059...2005
TOTAL $2,264,186


In the 10 year period between 1996 and 2005, the Township spent $2.264 million on advertising in the local newspapers. In this same period, the Township spent $812,816 on advertising in the Langley Advance and $1,451,370 on advertising in the Langley Times/Aldergrove Star.

Between 1996 and 2005, newspaper advertising expenditures have more than doubled. This equals an average 12.7% increase in advertising costs per year.

Has Langley grown that fast?

Kim Richter is in her 3rd term as Langley Township Councillor and also is a Professor of Business at Kwantlen University College. She holds a masters degree in health administration and was a health care management consultant.
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