OUR VIEW: We’re going to have to pay the piper

We say: Drastic decisions will have to be made at City Hall

If there is to be no service cuts at City Hall, the average Campbell River homeowner will have to pay an additional $288 a year ($24 per month) in taxes.

That will be a bitter pill to swallow. It’s not likely that city council is going to pile the burden of covering a projected $3.6 million deficit solely on the backs of homeowners. You can expect it to be a mix of a tax increase, service cuts and magical incantations.

No council is going to step away from budget deliberations and announce to residents that their taxes are going up $288 on average. So, it comes down to cuts.

Laura Ciarniello, the city’s corporate services manager, said council is considering other options, such as potential borrowing options to fund capital projects, using limited reserve funds to continue providing city services, and analyzing appropriate service levels. Getting into a fancy borrowing options for capital projects (maybe they don’t need to be done this year?) and dipping into reserve funds (again) just perpetuates the problem. So that leaves service cuts. Our online poll asks “Would you accept service cuts over a tax increase?” The results are unequivocal: 74 per cent said yes. So, what are we willing to do without? Are we really willing to bite the bullet and require residents to, say, take their recycling down to a central location themselves rather than pay for the garbage man to pick it up?

How long a lineup are we willing to tolerate at City Hall if we cut staff? Are we willing to accept that few people actually use the bus compared to drivers and maybe we could drop that. Is a volunteer fire department going to be adequate for a city this size? Would our mayor and city councillors be willing to do the job on a volunteer basis?

These are the questions we face.