Business targets rising municipal costs

target

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business tracks municipal spending.

VANCOUVER – With municipal elections approaching in November, B.C. business groups are renewing their pressure on contenders to slow the rapid growth of local government spending.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has asked mayors and councillors attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to sign a “taxpayer pledge” that calls on them to hold operating expense growth down to the combined increase in population and inflation, and narrow the gap between property tax rates for business and residential properties.

The CFIB calculates that B.C.’s municipal operating spending rose nearly 58 per cent between 2000 and 2008, twice as fast as population and inflation grew.

Sechelt Mayor Darren Inkster signed the taxpayer pledge Wednesday, as did Port Moody councillor Diana Dilworth and Coquitlam councillor Linda Reimer. Coquitlam council candidates Terry O’Neill and Andy Shen also stepped up, along with Vancouver mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton and three contenders for Vancouver council seats.

Shachi Kurl, the B.C. director of the CFIB, said the initial response is good, considering her group was told not a single incumbent would publicly support the pledge. She’s hoping candidates for municipal office will carry the taxpayer pledge message into their campaigns.

The UBCM executive issued its own analysis this spring, rebutting several years of CFIB claims that municipal spending is out of control. The UBCM analysis points to rising police, firefighting and recreation costs, as well as those imposed by senior governments such as paying for carbon offsets.

Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders also signed the pledge, although he isn’t seeking re-election. He said the tax targets are similar to what his council has accomplished by this year, and he would have signed the pledge if he was running in November.

Unionized municipal workers have to look at the state of the economy and see if their wage demands are holding back the growth of their community’s business tax base, Saunders said in an interview.

“The private sector can’t expect a cost of living pay increase every year, so I don’t think it’s fair in relation to union or private to say one’s going to get it but not the other,” he said.

Joining the CFIB in this year’s push for spending restraint is the Independent Contractors and Business Association. The ICBA produced a report detailing a similarly steep rise in municipal fees for construction, linking it to union contracts that feature pay and perks well beyond the private sector average of recent years.

ICBA president Phil Hochstein said “gold plated” union contracts with wage increases beyond inflation and benefits such as cash payouts for unused sick days are a key driver of costs.

“Unions are not to blame,” Hochstein said. “It is municipal politicians who have forgotten how to say no to everything but tax increases.”

Just Posted

VIDEO: Maple Ridge city staff in Great B.C. Shake Out

City staff took cover under desks during province-wide drill

Vehicle of missing Maple Ridge man is found in Abbotsford

Barrie Holt, 63, is also known to frequent Chilliwack area

Maple Ridge council grills federal candidates

Poses 10 questions to six contenders in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

Hydro to lower Alouette Lake by six meters this summer

Planning seismic upgrades but no salmon passage, conservationists lament

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

Canucks beat Stanley Cup champs 4-3 in a shootout

Leivo nets winner, Vancouver dumps St. Louis for fourth straight win

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

Workers at four Vancouver hotels ratify contract with higher wages, job security

Unite Here Local 40 president Zailda Chan says it’s the first hotel strike in Vancouver in nearly two decades

Japanese buyer expands wood pellet contract with B.C.’s Pinnacle

Mitsui and Co. increases contract with Interior energy producer

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

B.C. RCMP officer suing the force for malicious prosecution

Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth cleared of wrongdoing after misconduct hearing

UPDATE: Vehicle located and driver arrested in relation to fatal hit-and-run

Male pedestrian in his 50s died after being struck by vehicle on Highway 11 in Abbotsford

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Most Read