Tuesday, January 16, 2007

CTF Agrees With Cllr. Richter - They Want to Legislate Municipal Tax Increases to NO More Than CPI

Councillor Richter consistently has been saying that Langley Township should cap annual tax increase to CPI (consumer price index), stop spending like drunken sailors, and start tightening their expenditures belt. All her fellow councillors including Mayor Alberts have ignored her and fired away with significant tax increases in the past years, again this year, and now plan to increase taxes 77% over the next 10 years! Yesterday, led by rookie Cllr. Jordan Bateman, township council approved another historic 5% tax increase for the second year in a row when CPI is only 1.7%.

Cllr. Richter should take heart though. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) on January 5th proposed a cap on property tax bills - limiting annual increases to the rate of the consumer price index (CPI). Finally a credible source who backs up and agrees with the long time pleadings of Cllr. Richter on Langley Township council. As usual Richter is way ahead of her time and her Council colleagues . She also has the backing of many local taxpayers as revealed by the letters to the local press such as William Marr's and The Robinsons.

CTF says: "As other levels of government have improved financial reporting, transparency and accountability, municipalities have escaped the grasp of reform. It's time for local governments to improve their budgeting and tighten their fiscal belts." Again Richter was ahead of her time to no avail.

CTF also says: "Ratepayers must also be assured that they are getting value for their tax dollars, therefore the CTF is recommending that the purview of the Auditor General be extended to municipal services." Richter would have been happy with a simple external efficiency expert. As usual: No seconder & No discussion. The Township Grandstand fiasco begs for an Auditor General!

CTF in conclusion says: "It's time to end the uncertainty and reign in the discretion of local governments and adopt a cap on property tax bills."

The CTF's study (detailed report here) also points out that municipal tax revenue is up 44% between 2001-2004. "Spend-thrift municipal governments should not be let off the hook," added MacIntyre (Provincial Director, CTF - BC). The CTF recommends local cost saving measures including Alternative Service Delivery, P3s, privatization and greater use of user-based fee application for services like water and garbage collection. Finally, the CTF says that the province's Community Charter should be amended to mandate consultation of financial plans, value for money audits and local initiative and referenda provisions.

Value for money audits is exactly what Richter was trying to get the Township Council to implement. Even yesterday, Richter tried to amend the tax increase motion to include an efficiency expert to look for best practices and incorporate operational and program cost cutting measures. This was again not seconded even for discussion (interesting to note though that Cllr Richter graciously seconded Bateman's motion so it could be discussed). Worse still, her ammendment motions were not even reported on at all by either of the local press ( Times nor the Advance) which only said, 'Coun. Kim Richter was vocally opposed' to both rates, considering them too high. More than ever our previous posting conclusions seem very accurate indeed!

In reference to this historic second annual 5% tax increase, Richter said that "Council has declared war on the Township taxpayer". Also not quoted by any of the local press. Meanwhile the press merrily reports attempts to minimize this latest Township Council tax grab with ridiculous statements like 'it is only a $91 increase' (this year) per Cllr. Bateman! Another wonderful quote from Cllr. Grant Ward says he will not vote for a tax increase of less than 5.74%! Then there is Cllr.
Fox who is quoted saying "that most people living on larger properties have made a lifestyle choice, and they are not unwilling to pay the extra Township is asking."! Maybe some longer term residents without supplemental Council salaries and generous benefits who are on fixed incomes aren't as thrilled as Cllr. Fox suggests. When can we expect a Township Council old boys club member to next blurt out, 'Let them eat cake'?

Help out The CTF, and you, the taxpayers by sending in the CTF petition today. Send the petition to a friend too. Better still send an email or letter expressing your concerns to Mayor & Council as well as to the local papers (Advance - Times - Star)....

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