News Views: Tom’s budget

Pitt Meadows council is now proposing a municipal tax increase of 1.9 per cent for 2014.

Just a month or so ago, city staff proposed a 3.3-per-cent increase, a rate necessary just to maintain current services. That was so upsetting for Coun. Tracy Miyashita, she claimed if more was cut from the budget, she wouldn’t want to work for the city.

Yet council found another 1.4 per cent in reductions.

So what changed?

For the second straight year the city has been presented with a petition seeking a hold on residential taxes – no increase, zero.

Tom Murray, who passed away from cancer on Sunday, started the petition, stating that annual tax increases above the rate of inflation – those of four per cent annually were proposed by the city in a five-year plan in 2012 – are not affordable for some.

He didn’t want to be treated like the city’s personal piggy bank.

Council heard the message and found further reductions.

Still, Coun. Janis Elkerton and a few others plan to vote against the smaller proposed increase, suggesting even more can be trimmed from the budget and no increase is achievable.

We’re not suggesting that further cuts can be made or are necessary.

We’ve seen what putting off capital improvements has done to B.C. Hydro rates – forecast to balloon in to double digits in the next two years.

And Pitt Meadows has some real capital needs of its own, such as upgrading pump stations to prevent flooding.

But given staff initially wouldn’t recommend anything less than a three-per-cent increase and now one of 1.9 per cent is being proposed, maybe more can be cut.

It is also possible more is at play, given there is a municipal election next year, and politics are intervening in the budget process. We hope that is not the case, and that council, as a whole, can come to a decision that is best for the city and its residents.

That is what Mr. Murray wanted.

– The News


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