WHITE ROCK TAXES
Holding the line on taxation in White Rock has always been a top priority of past Councils - it has certainly been a major concern of mine over my more than 30 years with the City.
Unfortunately that is about to change with the current Council who seem to be totally oblivious to the cost of doing business in the public sector.
The above-noted Vancouver Sun article is about Vancouver's over the top projected tax increase. However, attached to the story is a graph showing the average tax increase in the Metro Municipalities over the past 10 years. The lowest average increase is White Rock's at 1.9% - just about at the rate of inflation. The next lowest is Port Coquitlam and North Van District at 2.3% - which is 21% more than White Rock's ! Surrey has the highest average increase at 4.5% - almost 2.5 times more than White Rock's and despite the fact that Surrey has moved as much as they can out of taxes and into utility charges which are billed separately and months in advance of the tax bill.
It will be interesting to see how the White Rock Council deals with their first real budget.
For 2019 they got to ride on the coat tails of the previous council. Even though they are publicly opposed to growth they are only too happy to reap the proceeds of the building permit fees, and the extra taxation they will get from the new construction they so fervently opposed. They also got a totally unexpected bonus from the fact the RCMP Detachment was left short of staff for most of the year and resulting in a surplus of some $600,000 in the forecast cost of policing. This was something they should have been upset about because our detachment was short-handed almost the entire year, but we never heard a peep out of our council who were obsessed with getting dogs on the promenade.
So for the 2020 budget there are going to be a few money bombs this group of not ready for prime time players are going to have to deal with:
1. The staff have advised them they will be short $600,000 in parking fees. The council hopes that a small increase in the summer rates will offset that loss. A summer of bad weather will dash those hopes. Unfortunately, hope is not a characteristic of good planning. Strike 1.
2. This group is firmly against growth. Hence there cannot be any expectation of new revenues from building permit fees and so that revenue source will dry up. Moreover that will also affect property taxation - not so much in 2020, but in subsequent years. Strike 2.
3. This group has just fired their City Manager. He was the one who was giving them the straight goods on Financial matters, and since they are fundamentally clueless about Local Government he has been doing his level best to keep them out of trouble. However, evidently they prefer someone who will simply do what he/she is told without expressing concern over possible downsides to an action. Likely cost of that departure is in the order of $400,000. On top of that, the City's Chief Financial Officer has had enough and will be leaving on her own volition at the same time as the City Manager. Really bad news for this group who still don't grasp the fundamentals of governance. Strike 3.
4. Still hanging over their heads is the court case for the Leela Thai property known as the Lady Alexandra. This is a potentially extremely expensive and ill-advised court case which could literally cost the City more than all the other matters put together. This one really takes the cake in terms of how not to govern. This group literally paid attention only to their base - as they have done all year. They have forgotten , or maybe really don't care about the 85% of the people who did not vote for them and instead are giving the other 15% what they wanted. This is not good governance and this is Strike 4 - you are outta there !