News Views: Scaling back

Coun. Miyashita should understand that budget cuts are a standard part of the political territory

Pitt Meadows city staff presented a preliminary budget on Tuesday that shows what would have to be cut from it if municipal taxes were not raised.

Among the featured items: firefighter training, road maintenance and city celebrations.

City finance director Mark Roberts would not endorse a zero tax increase, and suggests one of 3.3 per cent is needed just to maintain the current standard of services.

Even then, reductions would have to be made, such as getting rid of staff recognition, volunteer gifts, and the firefighters awards dinner.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita seemed genuinely upset about the proposed cutbacks, claiming that they aren’t fair and that she wouldn’t want to work for the city if the proposed budget was passed.

Firstly, Coun. Miyashita should put away her Kleenex box, stop being indignant and understand that tough decisions, such as budget cuts, are a standard part of the political territory, if she and others didn’t already know that.

We couldn’t stand to see another local politician cry over a budget.

Secondly, if the city was really in rough financial shape, rather than just going through an exercise to appease those who signed a petition, couldn’t firefighters go without an awards dinner? They know how appreciated they are, as do volunteers. Such folks aren’t motivated by pats on the back, or gifts.

Some councillors suggested there are other areas that could be scaled back.

Coun. Janis Elkerton even made a motion that  council bypass its seven-per-cent wage increase this year. But that was defeated.

Elkerton was correct in that council pay is public service remuneration – not a salary. But that is a conversation for another day.

For now, council and staff will continue to discuss how to pare down the municipal budget. We’re not suggesting a zero tax increase is a necessary outcome, but more can be done, and enough local residents feel that way.

All we ask is for our municipal politicians and staff to be straight with taxpayers, be sincere, and stop acting like the world is coming to an end.

– The News

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