BASS: Kudos to council for not nickel and diming for savings
It was good to see city council not pander to the ridiculous nickel-and-dime dance previous councils have done just to shave off a bit of the city’s tax hike.
It’s particularly good to see since it means mayor and councillors have realized the only way to actually provide adequate servicing to all of us in Kamloops means accepting that horrible digit — 3.
Of course, none of them are delighted that, at 3.55 per cent, it’s one of the largest property-tax hikes faced in recent years but, as Mayor Peter Milobar noted, there are a lot of things that happen in life we may not be happy about, but know must be done.
This is one of them.
Every year, there’s the ultimate wish list drawn up, all those things it would be wonderful to have, to use city revenues to pay for, to make sure get completed.
And, every year, most of them are scrapped for the basics that are needed to keep the city safe, prosperous, growing and with a lifestyle we want to have.
One of the cuts made at the session earlier this week was wrong.
The RCMP had asked for money for two new positions, one to deal with domestic violence and the other to deal with mental-health calls.
Only the domestic-violence request made it through unscathed.
Given the number of calls our officers deal with that involve mental-health issues, having one person available who would be trained specifically to assist with them should have remained on the “yes” side of the equation.
In urging it be removed, Coun. Donovan Cavers complained that to fund the position would mean accepting provincial downloading of services.
True. So what?
He should have listened longer to Coun. Pat Wallace, who wisely pointed out the city needs both RCMP positions to ensure people are looked after and moved through the system.
We expect our councillors to accept realities and not use their budget deliberations as a method of lobbying the provincial and federal governments to do their jobs. Someone has to make sure that, after all the debating, arguing and advocating is over, the work still gets done.
There were other equally silly attempts at shaving off a bit more money that, in truth, would mean just pennies saved for homeowners, given the current rate means the average Kamloopsian will be paying just slightly more than $1.14 a week for all the services the city provides for us — except, of course, those extra charges already in place.
Coun. Nelly Dever wanted to scrap the $20,000 for a waterpark in Westsyde, a move Coun. Tina Lange supported.
Now that would have really made a big impact on a $144-million budget.
It was particularly disappointing to see Lange and Coun. Arjun Singh arguing we should force bureaucrats to “go back to the drawing board,” as Lange said, to try to shave a decimal point or two to change that number 3 to a 2.
That’s not giving all of us credit for having very many smarts. We all know that something that costs $2.99 is really everything but $3 in reality — and, heck, with the removal of the penny from our currency system, it really is a round-up to the bigger number in our minds, isn’t it?
Coun. Ken Christian was right when he noted that, yes, of course Kamloopsians would like to see the numbers lower, but it simply can’t happen this year with all the buildings — including the Canada Games Pool — that need maintenance and the cost to expand the truly inadequate transit system to something that might just be partially inadequate.
Our politicians spend a lot of time telling us how they’re working hard to continue to grow the city’s economy and its reputation as a great place to live — but shortchanging us on the things required to actually back up those assertions is foolish.
Besides, next year’s an election year — there will be plenty of time for all that posturing and promising then.