The results of the city’s budget deliberations dictate a minimum tax increase of 3.4 per cent.
As the present city treasurer reported to the council, the proposed increase is a result of “zero” budgeting that council endorsed in 2009. Three of the present council members endorsed those “zero” budget years. They also endorsed the firing of senior staff with years of experience at a cost within the millions of dollars. We are now having to pay the catch up cost of those “zero” budget years and the wrongful and totally unnecessary dismissal of senior staff. Experienced staff who were replaced by in-experienced senior staff.
The 2009 council were elected on bringing a business approach to city hall. If city hall was a business, unlike a private business, and if it weren’t for the opportunity of this business council to tax properties the city would be out of business and declaring bankruptcy.
In reality, if senior staff were put forward what they would need to get a tax increase to satisfy their much needed funding for their departments the council would be looking at a 10 per cent to 15 per cent tax increase. Especially the Public Works department, which reported a much needed infrastructure expenditure of $172-million. Yes that is million.
That same council of 2009 (three on this present council) also introduced property tax exemptions for new construction for up to 10-years. As I have said many times before, that lost property tax revenue will never be recovered to help keep the city’s infrastructure up to date.
Just access your own personal situation, say you want to renovate your bathroom or kitchen and you decide to put it off for a couple of years. Guaranteed the inflation cost on materials and labour would add another 20 per cent to the cost of your improvements.
Demand on materials and labour will add millions to the estimated $172-million to bring the city’s infrastructure to where it was at in 2008. Some materials during the construction of the South Okanagan Events Centre were increased by 100 per cent.
This council literally wasted close to a million dollars building the vendors road through Gyro Park, money that could have been put towards the $1.7-million now needed to upgrade the 300 block of Main Street.
The reality check is that the budget cuts councils have made since 2009 will never ever allow the city to catch up with the city’s infrastructure. The image of our city has been downgraded since 2009 by those persons on past councils just wanting to get themselves re-elected.