OPINION: Full-time

New Pitt Meadows mayor wants to hire two full-time firefighters.

The new Pitt Meadows council wants to hire two full-time firefighters.

Mayor Bill Dingwall campaigned on doing such.

And some early feedback seems to favour that.

But taxpayers should know the cost, and much more.

Pitt Meadows staff is already pitching a 5.75 per cent overall tax increase for 2019.

That total, which will inevitably be whittled down, does not yet include money for two firefighters – who would cost about $250,000 a year.

So whatever the tax amount is settled on during budget deliberations, adding firefighters will increase it, by about a per cent.

Full-time mayor Dingwall has suggested already to hire the firefighters for just half the year, initially.

Which might suit him fine in minimizing the tax increase, this year.

But what about next?

And what if there is a structure fire in the first half of next year?

This is about safety, yes?

Pitt Meadows fire chief Don Jolley has long maintained that the current paid, on-call model, complemented by five full-time staff, provides excellent response times. A study backed that up.

Dingwall can boast about Pitt Meadows having among the lowest residential tax rates in Metro Vancouver, but for how long?

And what has he had to do with that?

It was the late Tom Murray, prior to the previous administration, who petitioned council to pass a budget with no tax increase.

Taxpayers elected John Becker as mayor to carry out that promise, and he did.

Then they voted him out after council approved completing the final phases of the Golden Ears Business Park, which besides bringing a new artificial turf field to the city, will also generate much tax revenue, possibly to enough to pay for two firefighters, maybe even more. Which would be great. Who doesn’t like firefighters?

Regardless, that is for this council to decide.

And if the taxpayers approve, they will show it, as they always do.

This should be about them.

It is their money.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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