A budget opposed by almost half of city council and protested by hundreds of Campbell Riverites was expected to be adopted by council Tuesday night.
Despite Mayor Walter Jakeway’s call for a tax revolt, a public protest outside city hall, and twenty-six delegations condemning a 13.6 per cent tax increase, the budget likely passed all three readings at last week’s council meeting, after the Mirror went to press (see www.campbellrivermirror.com for the latest).
The budget was slated for adoption, making a 13.6 per cent residential tax hike official, despite pleas from the public to take another look at the budget.
“I’m asking you to go back and re-assess what you’re doing. I’m worried about all of you, what you’re getting into,” said Michele Murphy during a delegation April 17. “If you have to do a tax increase – don’t make it 13.6. That’s ridiculous. Work with us.”
Other delegates, including Ray Green and Mark Sullivan, who ran for city council in November’s election, also asked council to go back and re-consider the budget.
Council has been divided on the tax increase since it was carried at a finance meeting March 27.
The vote narrowly passed by a 4-3 margin with councillors Ryan Mennie, Claire Moglove, Larry Samson and Mary Storry one one side, with the mayor and councillors Andy Adams and Ron Kerr on the other. Adams said the budget carried a “significant” increase, an “unprecedented” draw on reserves and not enough cuts.
“No one likes to cut services or adversely impact on people’s jobs but we’re entrusted to look at all avenues, and leave no stone unturned,” Adams said at last week’s council meeting. “Unfortunately, I do not believe we’ve done that.”
The most significant cuts to the budget include: reduction of council travel ($18,500); elimination of a bylaw enforcement officer ($68,718); contracting out cemetery maintenance ($16,700); 50 per cent reduction in grass trimming and manual mowing ($14,000); twenty-five per cent reduction in horticulture ($49,000); decrease of $90,000 in maintenance and repairs on city facilities; not participating in Communities in Bloom ($24,000); eliminating skate park hosts ($18,976); not filling a maternity leave position ($69,815); and eliminating a vacant admin assistant ($35,467). Jakeway has also maintained council did not go far enough and said earlier this month “the public is being screwed.”
That prompted Campbell River taxpayers to band together via Facebook and organize a march before the April 3 council meeting.
Jakeway said this year’s budget will put Campbell River’s recovery back a year.