Tom Murray collects signatures for his zero tax increase petition outside the IGA.

Pitt taxpayers call for zero tax increase

Petition presented to Pitt Meadows council on Tuesday

The City of Pitt Meadows received a petition for the second year in a row signed by more than 1,000 people calling for council to rein in taxes.

Norma Murray presented the thick stack of 1,469 signatures to council Tuesday, albeit with a heavy heart.

Her husband Tom, who spearheaded the petition, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last week and has spent the past few days in hospital for a series of tests.

“Tom has very suddenly and without warning become seriously ill and has asked that I present this petition on his behalf,” Norma Murray told council.

“And to recognize and thank all the citizens of this beautiful city, who had the chance and felt the need to sign this, on behalf of these citizens… I present the petition for a zero-per-cent tax increase for the year 2014.”

The Murrays have already been successful at getting the city to present two tax scenarios – one with no increases to property taxes in 2014 and a second which estimates the city will need to raise its municipal tax rate by 3.3 per cent just to maintain services next year.

A one-per-cent tax increase in 2014 would generate $156,000 in revenue for the city.

The proposed preliminary tax increase of 3.3 per cent would mean an additional $56 to the average homeowner in Pitt Meadows, with a property valued at $369,046.

The proposed 2014 budget includes $445,000 in reductions.

Murray said she and Tom felt it was still necessary to present a petition as a reminder that many residents want the city to “cut the frills and get down to basics.”

“Zero doesn’t mean cuts essential services,” said Murray, once again referring to the nearby municipality of Mission which gave its residents a zero tax increase in 2012 and is aiming for the same in 2014.

The District of Mission whittled down its budget for 2012 by paring back small things such as reduced hours at the RCMP’s front desk, no council salary increases and eliminating a part-time clerical position for the mayor. Cuts were made, but Mission still serviced its debt.

“I hope people in our city will continue to support fiscal responsibility and keep this going,” said Murray.

Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters told Murray the city will take the petition into considerations as staff craft budgets for next year, a process that begins Dec. 4.

Budget planning

Business plans for 2014 will be online at pittmeadows.bc.ca by Nov. 29.

Budget presentations take place:

• Dec. 4 from 5:30 p.m.  to 7:30 p.m.  – Presentation of business plans;

• Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Presentation of business plans;

• Dec. 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Budget deliberations;

• Dec. 16 from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Budget deliberations.

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