OUR VIEW: Council drafts budget, like it or not

City financial plan for 2011 not likely to please anybody

So, after $77,000 janitors and $84,500 deputy clerks injected more than sufficient outrage in Campbell River voters, city council drafted up their 2011 budget.

The final result is a four per cent residential tax increase and a half-per cent business tax increase. After threats of up to a 13 per cent increase in taxes, the four per cent looks less drastic. Of course, there are people who are going to say four per cent is too much but to expect no increase in your taxes is far too unrealistic.

There’s a train of thought amongst at least some voters that a tax increase could be prevented by sufficient cuts to wasteful spending. But defining wasteful spending is a political exercise that more senior levels of government would seek a mandate to conduct – i.e., run an election on it with full disclosure of what exactly that means. The aforementioned employee contract-mandated custodial position is one example people will immediately point to and that’s fine, if voters want to micro-manage the city budget they can go ahead.

In the meantime, Campbell River needs an operating budget for the next year. A mix of cuts and a tax increase is really the only way to go. The financial position of the city is dire now that the pulp mill cash cow is gone and to prevent the four per cent increase, services would have been cut drastically. Do all residents have the stomach for that? Perhaps, that’s what we should do. There’s a municipal election in October, voters can elect candidates who are willing to drastically change the way cities are run. But before anybody starts hacking and slashing city operations, they had better fully research the impact it has on delivering the quality of life residents expect. A city’s job is still to deliver services, not elminate them.

– Campbell River Mirror