News Views: What to cut?

Maple Ridge council is considering another five per cent tax increase.

Maple Ridge council is considering another five per cent tax increase.

Residents complained during the fall municipal election campaign of annual tax increases outpacing the rate of inflation, calling for governments to cut spending.

The 13 pay raise the previous council voted for the incoming one, which retained five of seven members, was a prime target. It was voted down on Tuesday, though, a simple move to gloss over a legitimate concern.

Council approved a 5.6 per cent tax increase last year, and 5.7 per cent the year before that. It’s proposing another 5.6 per cent increase this year.

The Municipal Spending Watch, published by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, showed Maple Ridge increased its operational spending 2.38 times more than its overall population and inflation growth last year, one of the worst rates in the province.

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin claimed earlier this week that the district is just trying to maintain services.

“Where do we cut,” he asked.

Why not show us? Present several options, as Corisa Bell, new to council, suggested – budget variations showing the implications of smaller tax increases, or none at all.

How would taxpayers feel about not spending $220,000 to install a pedestrian-controlled light on 224th Street, where seniors have been hit by cars. Do we need a $4.5 million bridge on 232nd Street, or a new $700,000 fire truck? Bike lanes, who needs them?

Why not limit tax increases to the inflation rate?

Ultimately, it is council’s job to decide what is best for Maple Ridge.

Given the majority on council were re-elected, no matter the low voter turnout – apathy or otherwise – suggests they have the support to continue spending as they have in recent years.

When was the last time residents didn’t complain about tax increases, anyway?

The time to speak up was Nov. 19.

Now it’s council’s turn to answer its critics.

 

– The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News