Sunday, December 03, 2006

Cllr. Richter Answers Critic and Clarifies Her Tax Increase Position

We posted herein a survey result amongst which tax increases were discussed. Well it caused a few salacious comments in rebuttal. This editor specifically enjoyed the point-counterpoint between a Richter critic and Councillor Richter herself in the comments section. Her clarification on tax hikes once again reminded us of how scary the Township tax increase predicament is. Not just this year and next year but over the next ten years! Her clarification was pointed, dramatic, revealing and in summary cuts to the chase. It's very sad indeed how the Township Council bureaucratic smokescreen has for the most part obscured these tax hikes to the public and especially the local press. Therefore we repost her important comments (just below left, mouseclick read more);

Liberal Federal Party or LFP(The Richter Critic) 12.03.06 - 4:51
Another glass half full statement! I remember distinctly that one Kim Richter (the female council member) so vehemently campaigning for improved public safety, more police, full time fire etc. etc. And you folks are so foolish as to believe this comes at no cost to tax payers. Do the math, if you campaign for it, then you must accept the cost.....Therefore expect Kim R. To back the budget as she wanted the items that cost the most! If she doesn't support these items then she is one fickle councillor!

Kim Richter(Richter's Response) Email 12.03.06 - 6:43 pm
Dear Federal Liberal Party or FLP:
You seem to have a pretty short memory. I campaigned for tax restraints because I believed then as I do now that a little bit of efficiency can go a long way.

I said then that I supported full time fire service because the people in this community after a lengthy and detailed public input process said they supported full time fire fighters and were prepared to pay the extra 2% tax increase per hall to be able to do so. I said that I felt that we could find this extra 2% without having to resort to tax increases.

In the budget last year, staff requested tax increases well in excess of 2% and Council in its infinite wisdom agreed to a 4.95% increase in the General Levy EACH year over the next 10 years. So what happened to 2%? We only brought one full time fire hall on and it did not start until 3/4's of the way through the year (October 2006).

Now flash forward 1 year. What is Council being asked to approve this year? No easy-to-read-one-line summary figures have yet been given to Council. Instead, the General Levy has now been split into 3: General, Transportation and Protective Services. Projected increases in each of these new levies are:

  • General - 3% across the board each year to 2016;
  • Transportation- 11% increase each year to 2009 then 10.5% increase each year to 2016;
  • Protective Services - a 10.5% increase each year to 2008, then an 8% increase to 2016.
Is this clear as mud to you? It is to me too. From what I can determine, the 4.95% increase in the general levy approved last year has just ballooned to: 7.4% this year, 7.6% next year and 7.7% the following year.
And let's not forget that the:

  • Water rate is projected to increase 6% each year to 2016;
  • Sewer rate will also increase 6% each year to 2016;
  • Stormwater rate is projected to increase 12% each year to 2009, then 6% to 2016; and
  • Garbage rate is projected to increase now at 3.5% each year to 2016.
I've requested some clarifications from staff on these numbers and a total overall % increase. I'm still waiting for that information.

So will I vote in favour of this budget? The way it stands now, not a chance.

I believe the public is being misled. I believe there are efficiencies that need to be investigated. I believe new development should be paying for itself. I don't believe Council needs Blackberry's and other perks. I believe we should hire an efficiency expert like Alexander Proudfoot to go through Township's books and programs with a fine tooth comb and make some unbiased recommendations to Council on programs and services that offer value for dollar, and those that don't. Then and only then will I consider a tax increase necessary.

I hope this clarifies my position on this latest greedy budget. There is a limit to what the taxpayer can bear. In Ottawa, they just threw out a long-serving Mayor for continually increasing taxes above the cost of living. Should Langley start thinking the same way?
Kim Richter

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