At their first meeting of the new mandate, Pitt Meadows council started work on the Four Ts that Mayor John Becker’s team used as an election platform: taxation, transportation, transparency and teamwork.
Council set Feb. 21, 2015 for Taxation 101 town hall meeting at Heritage Hall.
He said staff will go over a sample property tax notice, assessment methods and other basic elements of municipal taxation.
Becker said topics should include an explanation of budgeting reserves, as well as borrowing for projects.
“They need to appreciate that we are watching over their money as though it was our own,” Becker added.
But at the same time he wants the public to be educated about what drives budget increases and why a tax freeze “is not a sustainable budgeting model.”
The team promised a zero tax increase during the election campaign, and members were critical of former mayor Deb Walters for not responding to the 1,400-name petition calling for no tax increase for 2014.
The petition was organized by the late Tom Murray.
On May 21, there will be a transportation town hall meeting at Heritage Hall, scheduled as an opportunity for the public to discuss issues including the Lougheed Highway and Harris Road intersection, the CPR track crossing and traffic snarls it causes on Harris, and local neighbourhood traffic calming.
The city will invite CPR, TransLink and Transportation Ministry officials to the forum.
To address “transparency,” council will begin recording video of its council in committee meetings, as well as regular meetings, and posting them online. At present, the city is provided video of regular council meetings only, supplied by Shaw.
But Becker said the council in committee meetings are where much of the debate occurs. Motions must be passed again at the regular meeting, but generally the decisions have already been made.
He would also like to give opportunities for public comment to council during meetings, rather than at the end – after decisions have been rendered.
The city will also establish a Citizen’s Committee on Open Government, to provide recommendations to city council on ways that city council and city hall can be more responsive and transparent to residents and other stakeholders. Once it starts to work, it will have a three-month time limit to bring recommendations.
The fourth T the team promised was teamwork. Becker has arranged some team-building exercises for council, but they have generally expressed optimism about there being a lot of cooperation in the group. His team included Elkerton, Bruce Bell, David Murray and Mike Stark, all elected.