I asked city staff and council a few years ago if they would define/quantify their objective/strategy: “Living within our means” [“Finance committee discussion focuses on municipal tax increases,” July 30]. I’m dating myself. This phrase has now been changed with the rejuvenation of the much-overused word “sustainability.”
The fact of the matter is both expressions lack a definitive answer, as the meaning is dependent on the individual. As an individual, I have defined the terms as it relates to myself. Living within our means and/or financial sustainability, I define as the point at which I can no longer pay my property taxes. If the seven per cent tax increase I paid this year continues for 10 years, my taxes will have doubled, and before that point I will not be living within my means nor financially sustainable.
Simply, the problem is the amount of tax and tax increase, which is too high, not that the residents do not know or understand the calculation associated with the municipal tax.
As some (a minority) of the councillors have pointed out, the cause of higher taxes is city spending, not the calculation for tax distribution. The scary point is that uncontrolled spending has a compounding effect in subsequent years.
Do I have confidence the per cent of taxes will decrease over the next 10 years? Absolutely not. Particularly in view of the new debt-serving costs, for the waste treatment and land purchase. Debt serving for these two projects alone will be $1,744,965 per year, equivalent to a 13 per cent residential tax increase, and doubling the city’s debt servings cost from $1,612,556 to $3,357,521 (CFO’s April 16 report 510-20-0020).
Financial sustainability will require significant spending cuts, for which the majority of this council does not have the stomach to do what is needed for financial sustainability.
Invermere Court, Powell River