A bylaw aimed at expanding the services Metro Vancouver provides to municipalities got support from Pitt Meadows council on Tuesday.
The bylaw will enable the regional district to provide services of pan-municipal interest that they currently can’t offer, such as public outreach and consultations on matters of mutual interest.
The bylaw also gives Metro Vancouver the authority to lobby other levels of governments on issues of common interest.
As well, it will be able to retain legal, policy or technical experts to advise on special projects relating to policing, culture and ports in the region – all services that don’t currently fall under the board’s mandate.
If adopted, the bylaw will allow Metro to spend up to $200,000 annually on pan-municipal affairs services, and a maximum of $250,000 per year on special projects. For Pitt Meadows, the annual cost would be about $2,350 – which works out to about a 22 cents increase on the property tax bill for an average household.
Although the city supported the bylaw, it was not unanimous. Coun. Janis Elkerton and Bruce Bell voted against it.
Elkerton felt the bylaw was duplicating services already provided.
“I am also concerned that there will be remuneration to directors on Metro Vancouver’s board that are quite excessive,” she added.
Elkerton reminded council that they were starting a budget planning process that sets out next year’s tax increase.
“If you look after the pennies, the dollars will look after themselves,” she said.
Final adoption of the bylaw will take place at a Metro Vancouver meeting in November.
Call for municipal price index
The City of Pitt Meadows is supporting Maple Ridge in its call for the creation of a municipal price index.
The index would focus on municipal spending and is different from the consumer price index, which measures changes in the price level of goods and services purchased by households.
“We are affected more by the cost of fuel and the price of road fixing material. We don’t buy the things that are in the consumer price index,” said Coun. Doug Bing last week.
“The municipal price index is much higher than the consumer price index. That’s the message that has to get out there.”
Maple Ridge sent a letter to B.C.’s auditor general in June asking the province to create the municipal index and plans to submit it as a resolution at the annual Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.
Pitt Meadows director of finance Dean Rear explained the city does not use an index to calculate taxation.
“The city prepares an expenditure budget to deliver a set of services to the community and then has to generate the revenue necessary to pay for those services,” said Rear.
“While there is usually new revenue from growth, increases in general taxation are implemented to close the gap between projected revenue and the budgeted expenditures.”
Rear believes a municipal price index would help clarify for the public the difference in the set of services provided by a municipality such as roads, water, sewer, solid waste, and public safety and the basket of consumer goods used to determine the Consumer Price Index.