Campbell River City Hall. Campbell River Mirror photo

COUNCIL: Candidates for mayor asked about fiscal situation

City facing financial ‘Big Rocks’

l Michael Calhoun…

Cutting city cost by centralizing city services more community involvement in providing services like snow removal and gardening of plant and flower displays. Relook at all city services and make sure all purchases are the best and most cost effective. Still buy local but a cap on how much extra they will charge. Preventive maintenance on buildings so they last longer before need to be replaced. A prime example is the roof on city hall. It looks like a jungle of weed and plants, never a minute of maintenance in years. A very shameful and stark example.

Have mayor and council with construction experience. To coin a phrase, my friend knows a woman, smart and intellectual. She bakes also a mouth-watering apple pie but she does not know how to build a road. Why is she Highway Minister? The space is to short for all the answers but it’s on a highway to Hell.

l Charlie Cornfield...

Everyone expects to pay some taxes. Residents want to know is what they pay in taxes fair and are they receiving value for tax dollars?

We are facing some Big Rocks such as inflation, and labour contracts beyond our control.

As Mayor here is what I would do.

• Prioritize financial planning with Council and staff through strategic planning. Set aside special budget meetings of Council in open session when appropriate.

• Evaluate on per capita spending comparing previous years. Make sure that budgets are aligned with growth.

• Review base budget by department to be sure that expenditures are required and making sure the what and the why are explained and assumptions challenged.

• Ensure that service levels are appropriate.

• Prioritize budget on must do, should do, nice to do.

Recommend we conduct a fee review to ensure fees collected are appropriate. Compare costs to revenues using a business case approach by cost center.

Recommend reducing the number of priority projects undertaken to reduce workloads to attainable levels. And that other projects on the priority list be shovel ready to take advantage of grant opportunities

Recommend Council review contributions collected for the regional district to ensure taxation is equitable.

Assign 2 councillors to pursue alternate non- taxation revenue via a community forest in partnership with 1st Nations.

Create a public task force to identify and evaluate ideas to generate alternate revenues and explore other innovative and creative ideas for generating non- tax revenue such as a resource revenue sharing agreement with the province. Assign 2 councillors to participate and report to Council.

Report out regularly to the constituents on value for tax dollars spent.

l Kermit Dahl…

First, I would be one of seven on council. So whatever approach we take, it will have to be a collaborative approach with council. I’ve already said, we either have a 10-plus per cent tax increase, or we start to look at different ways to generate revenue. And that’s the only options there is. We have an airport that costs the taxpayers a lot of money, we need to have a strong business plan to get the airport to contribute. We can’t keep piling taxes on the residents and business owners. My taxes since 2012 to 2022 have gone up 70%. My wages have not gone up 70%. My business’s revenue hasn’t gone up 70%. So my approach is to generate more tax dollars from developing industrial land and allowing businesses to locate here and allowing development. Not urban sprawl, like the fear mongering being spread by other candidates. I’m talking about controlled, thought-out development, meeting the demands of the residents of Campbell River. If we don’t get a handle on this, we’re going to have no young people, no young families living here. I know of lots of them that come in here and buy tires so they can move away from Campbell River. It happens too often, where people are leaving Campbell River to move to other communities because the housing is more reasonable. And we’re never going to see the prices that

we had when we were young. But we need to do something for our young families. We grew in the last four years 2.26% in the demographic of around 20- to 45-year-old people, we grew 34% in 64 and over. So if we want to grow the senior population, we’re going to need people to take care of them to provide medical services. And we’re not allowing the growth to happen that’s going to create that.

I think we’ve got some good good ideas to develop some housing that would have commercial-retail space in the ground floor, possibly built specifically for medical services on the ground floor, that we can rent to young doctors coming out of university at low market rates to attract young doctors and then, if we had lower-income housing on the upper three, four or five floors, I think that would help a bad situation.

l Saron Gebresellassi…

My approach is to declare Campbell River open for business. This will directly address the service deficit in the city in every arena, from childcare to technology, and will drive up innovation. Reliance on residential property taxes will be reduced with manageable growth and expanding business opportunities. I will attract new minds and investors to visit town and operate here with a view to increasing commercial residential tax revenue for the city over the long term.

l Larry Samson…

It has been said that the city may be facing a 6 to 9% tax increase next year. With inflation running over 7% and interest rates expected to rise next year, the City must ensure budgets are adjusted accordingly.

I would look at all major capital projects and categorize them in priority. Capital projects would be looked at with a business case analysis; what is the payback or return on our investment. We continue to see capital projects carried over to the following year. Is the city being too ambitious in what can be accomplished by staff or contactors? Capital projects with a significant annual operating cost would have to undergo a review.

There is currently a 30% vacancy rate of staff. Is there an opportunity to fill those positions as the economy rebounds and the non-market revenue improves or increases.

The province gave the city approximately $4 million in COVID transition monies. There is about $1.9 million left. Can we use a portion of these monies until 2024 at which time it is forecasted that interest rates and inflation will come down.

There will be other opportunities; once the new Mayor and Council sits down with staff and has had to chance to look at the projected budget. I believe Mayor and Council have to lead by example and to challenge our staff to find more efficient ways of delivering services.

We just have to work together.

Campbell RiverElection 2022Municipal election

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