Editorial — Taxpayers receive less service for higher cost

August is often a quiet month, with many government agencies operating at half speed, due to vacations. Both Langley Township and Langley City councils take the entire month off, and many senior staff at all levels of government are not in the office.

This may be a reflection of how government in general demands more money for fewer services. People in government jobs, from the top to the bottom, have generous vacation packages to go along with pensions which most people can only dream about. Given that many senior people are away for a longer period during the summer, councils have decided not to bother meeting in August.  And the cycle continues.

Since when did the entire month of August become the equivalent of a Christmas holiday break? That is what it has become for many who are paid by taxpayers.

Numerous studies have pointed out how municipal budgets have grown far faster than the rate of inflation. In Langley Township, there is some justification for that, given that the population of the Township has grown significantly. Langley City, however, has barely grown in decades — but the cost of government keeps rising substantially.

Federal and provincial governments have also grown, although the level of service citizens receive from those governments varies significantly. It is very hard to get definitive answers from government officials, whether you are dealing with a passport application, citizenship test, Employment Insurance benefits, or health test.

Often citizens must wait on hold for hours to even speak to someone working at a government office. Yet staffing levels of all those agencies keeps growing, as does the cost.

This is not to say that all the money we pay in taxes is poorly-spent. Langley has benefited greatly from the numerous overpass projects which will ease traffic congestion at railway crossings. The last of these, the Mufford overpass, opened to traffic for the first time on Monday. One of the benefits of that overpass is the closure of a dangerous interesction — Mufford Crescent and Highway 10 (Glover Road).

Local governments have improved recreation facilities, and the provincial government has initiated many traffic improvement projects, such as Highway 1. The negative side of that project is that only those who cross the Port Mann Bridge pay for it directly. All others using the much-improved road don’t pay a dime in tolls.

As governments break for the summer, citizens should consider the value they receive for their tax dollars.

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