Simone Blais’s article in Wednesday’s paper does not tell the whole story on spending in Penticton and municipal taxes. First of all, to the best of my knowledge Penticton was the only city in British Columbia to lower its taxes in 2011 by half a per cent. It is not a lot, but it is a start.
Accordingly, Mayor Dan Ashton and the entire council are, in my opinion, to be congratulated. Again, it is a start.
The CFIB is correct about out-of-control municipal spending from 2000 to 2009, but Mayor Ashton and council took action starting in 2009. First they appointed an independent Fiscal Review Advisory Board, then they ordered a full core review of all city operations, they hired a new city manager in September 2010. The results were elimination of a proposed $1.7 million deficit, a reduction of 30 per cent in management staff and a six per cent reduction in staff. The very diligent work of our mayor, council and staff through the 2011 budget process achieved a zero base budget, with the result being the half per cent decrease in municipal taxes.
Again, from my perspective, given what is taking in the global community with respect to the financial crisis, I am pleased our mayor and council were listening to taxpayers and making the tough decisions which were required to look after the taxpayers of Penticton.
To Mayor Ashton and council, thanks for your efforts, but remember it is only the first step. Looking forward, the taxpayers expect those re-elected or elected to look after their monies and ensure there are no property tax increases in the next few years.
Rick Thorpe, volunteer chair
Fiscal Review Advisory Board