News Views: Spendthrifts

Municipalities are spending more than ever and faster than ever, according a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report

Municipalities are spending more than ever and faster than ever, according a Canadian Federation of Independent Business report.

It found overall municipal operating spending in the province has soared at nearly four times the combined rate of population and inflation over the past decade.

Not even one Lower Mainland municipality has come close to limiting spending to a growth rate deemed sustainable by the small business lobby group.

Lucky there’s a municipal election this Saturday.

Taxpayers can only bear so much, as we’ve heard throughout the campaign.

While municipalities might be struggling with downloading, the federation found they are receiving more government grants and raising more money through fees and charges.

Had local municipal councils restrained spending to the growth of population and inflation in the past decade, the CFIB report said, a family of four would have saved $3,000 to $5,000 in most Lower Mainland cities. It estimates B.C. residents overall would have saved more than $4 billion over the past decade had spending been held to the recommended level.

Municipalities need better cost control, it recommends.

The B.C. Municipal Spending Watch 2011 report does not include capital project spending, just operating expenses.

The report was released just before the municipal election on Saturday as a way to encourage new councils to try harder to contain the wage and benefit demands of unionized municipal workers, as contracts are coming up for renewal.

CUPE has endorsed candidates in both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

The previous bargaining round led to pre-Olympic deals that gave civic workers across much of Metro Vancouver wage hikes of at least 13 per cent over four years.

Also, in Maple Ridge, local politicians voted a 13-per-cent pay raise over three years for the incoming council. Reversing that decision is one way to start cutting back on spending, ensuring services are maintained and costs are controlled.

That is what this election is about, voting for what you want, holding elected officials accountable. Holding the line on taxes? Enough with the spendthrifts. The time to have a say is now. Get out and vote.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News