Some of the towns in northern B.C. aren’t the best when it comes to spending taxpayers’ dollars, according to a report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
The B.C. Municipal Spending Watch 2014, released recently, analyzes how well municipalities across the province have been spending money over the past 12 years.
According to the report, which ranks municipalities based on their operating costs and the rate of operating spending growth, the costs of local government per capita was highest in northern B.C. at $2,324.
The Village of Telkwa is the worst when it comes to spending in the Bulkley Valley, ranked 138 out of 151 municipalities, dropping 67 spots from the previous year, when it was ranked 71.
In 2012, the tax spending per capita was $1,881 in the village.
“It seems like there are many municipalities in the North that have some spending problems. We understand that there needs to be some expansion of the operating budget, some of these communities are growing, some aren’t, but there are some that are growing and they know that necessitates a bigger budget to provide municipal services to that added population,” said Richard Truscott, B.C. director with the federation.
But Telkwa’s deputy mayor and mayoral candidate Rimas Zitkauskas defended the municipality’s spending.
“Nobody wants to spend more than we need to. But at the same time, we need to realize that we have to start spending what we have to spend otherwise, more and more communities, especially rural communities are going to head down that road,” said Zitkauskas, noting that some rural communities have asked to be dissolved or are merging with larger neighbouring communities because they were unable to support themselves.
“We need to ensure that the long-term growth of our community is there. As we grow, we can reduce the contributions needed by individual residents.”
The Town of Smithers rounded out the pack, dropping to 70 from 64 last year; and Hazelton was ranked 107.