Opinion

News Views: Just try no tax

Former school trustee Tom Murray has started a petition, asking the City of Pitt Meadows to draft a budget next year with no municipal tax increase.

Staff have already proposed annual tax increases of four per cent for the next five years.

That’s another 20 per cent, on top of a 35 per cent increase over the past seven years, including 3.93 in 2012.

Coun. Bruce Bell made a motion to keep next year’s increase at three per cent. He was supported by Couns. Janis Elkerton and Dave Murray, but it was defeated.

John Becker, in his bid for mayor last fall, suggested staff draft a budget to show residents what a zero per cent increase would look like, what services and capital projects would have to be cut, if any.

Deb Walters, who defeated him for mayor, seemed at the time to support such an initiative, but now doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

Mission, however, did just that, not just showing but passing a 2012 budget with no municipal tax increase, while still managing to pay down some of its $17 million in debt – a figure similar to Pitt Meadows.

Mission did so by cutting things like RCMP front desk hours, and reducing the salary increase for council, and cutting evening meals for council.

It couldn’t be that difficult, or take up that much staff time, if Mission – with a population at least double that of Pitt Meadows – can do it.

West Vancouver and Penticton also did the same this year, by the way.

Surely then the talented administrative staff at Pitt Meadows city hall, all heavily compensated – as that’s what it takes to attract the best, we’re so often told – shouldn’t have much difficulty drafting a budget with a zero per cent municipal tax increase, just to see.

To just automatically increase taxes every year is unsustainable; some businesses and governments actually institute pay freezes.

And other municipalities are proving a budget with no tax increase can be done, so Pitt Meadows can’t just start out by saying no.

There’s no harm in giving it a try.

 

– The News

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