Business targets rising municipal costs

target

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business tracks municipal spending.

VANCOUVER – With municipal elections approaching in November, B.C. business groups are renewing their pressure on contenders to slow the rapid growth of local government spending.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has asked mayors and councillors attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to sign a “taxpayer pledge” that calls on them to hold operating expense growth down to the combined increase in population and inflation, and narrow the gap between property tax rates for business and residential properties.

The CFIB calculates that B.C.’s municipal operating spending rose nearly 58 per cent between 2000 and 2008, twice as fast as population and inflation grew.

Sechelt Mayor Darren Inkster signed the taxpayer pledge Wednesday, as did Port Moody councillor Diana Dilworth and Coquitlam councillor Linda Reimer. Coquitlam council candidates Terry O’Neill and Andy Shen also stepped up, along with Vancouver mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton and three contenders for Vancouver council seats.

Shachi Kurl, the B.C. director of the CFIB, said the initial response is good, considering her group was told not a single incumbent would publicly support the pledge. She’s hoping candidates for municipal office will carry the taxpayer pledge message into their campaigns.

The UBCM executive issued its own analysis this spring, rebutting several years of CFIB claims that municipal spending is out of control. The UBCM analysis points to rising police, firefighting and recreation costs, as well as those imposed by senior governments such as paying for carbon offsets.

Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders also signed the pledge, although he isn’t seeking re-election. He said the tax targets are similar to what his council has accomplished by this year, and he would have signed the pledge if he was running in November.

Unionized municipal workers have to look at the state of the economy and see if their wage demands are holding back the growth of their community’s business tax base, Saunders said in an interview.

“The private sector can’t expect a cost of living pay increase every year, so I don’t think it’s fair in relation to union or private to say one’s going to get it but not the other,” he said.

Joining the CFIB in this year’s push for spending restraint is the Independent Contractors and Business Association. The ICBA produced a report detailing a similarly steep rise in municipal fees for construction, linking it to union contracts that feature pay and perks well beyond the private sector average of recent years.

ICBA president Phil Hochstein said “gold plated” union contracts with wage increases beyond inflation and benefits such as cash payouts for unused sick days are a key driver of costs.

“Unions are not to blame,” Hochstein said. “It is municipal politicians who have forgotten how to say no to everything but tax increases.”

Just Posted

If climate is an emergency, act like it

Council has declared a climate emergency, but is sitting on money that could mitigate its effects

CT scanner officially open in Smithers

As of noon on July 12 the machine had scanned 45 patients, five of which were emergency CT scans.

Musical collaboration comes together at Midsummer Music Festival

The project was done to acknowledge a potential for harmony among otherwise disparate communities.

WATCH: Mip performs at Bulkley Valley Brewery July 12

Catch two songs from Mip’s nearly three-hour set at the brewery on July 12.

Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman sentenced to life in prison

Experts say he will likely wind up at the federal government’s Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

‘Beyond the call’: Teen in police custody gets birthday surprise by B.C. Mountie

Unusual celebration started when Staff Sgt. Paul Vadik went to visit the teen in his Coquitlam cell

Thunderstorms forecast across B.C.

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for B.C.’s central Interior

Most Read