Vernon’s mayor-elect is cautioning city hall staff that widespread budget cuts are not necessarily looming.
Rob Sawatzky admits some city employees may be uncertain about his victory because he campaigned for a core review of all services.
“They need to understand that’s not the point,” he said of potential layoffs. “The best wish is a core service review will show money is being spent in the best way it can and we change very little. People don’t just work for money and we will do nothing by undermining morale.”
But Sawatzky, who led the polls in Saturday’s election, stands by the need to scrutinize spending.
“Nobody should be afraid of a report card,” he said.
“My goal is not to cut for cut sake. I want to make sure we’re engaged in a budget process that’s sustainable.”
In terms of other issues, Sawatzky isn’t waiting until Dec. 5’s swearing-in ceremony to try and tackle Vernon’s strained relationship with Coldstream and the regional district.
“I am already meeting with Mayor (Jim) Garlick this week and that’s positive,” said Sawatzky. “The only way to resolve these things is to communicate.”
Sawatzky will not speculate on whether he will support maintenance being carved off from the parks and recreation function or if he will continue to defend Vernon’s stance that voting patterns be dictated by representation-by-population.
“I need to know how we got to this point (differences). That will become more clear in the next few weeks,” he said, adding that there won’t be any quick solutions.
“The public knows you should moderate your expectations. These things take time to repair. If you think you have all of the answers and things are everybody else’s fault, you will be surprised.”
Joining Sawatzky on council will be incumbent councillors Bob Spiers, Patrick Nicol and Mary-Jo O’Keefe, former councillor Juliette Cunningham and newcomers Catherine Lord and Brian Quiring.
The first step will be establishing priority issues for the upcoming three-year term.
“I will consult and discuss that with council. The mayor is not a king or dictator,” said Sawatzky. “I really hope we don’t agree on everything. Different opinions, that’s how you come up with good fertile ideas.”