Letter: Why are our property taxes continuing to rise well beyond the CPI?

More budget woes in Saanich, increases adopted without business case

A small, discouraging example at Monday night’s Council Meeting was the passage by Council of the CRD’s request to increase the funding of its Climate Action and Adaptation Service Program by permanently increasing the annual amount available to the program by 50 per cent and the related mill rate by 8.33 per cent. The increase was adopted without any business case for how the money will be spent.

Council did originally postpone the request to get additional information from the CRD, after I stood at a prior meeting and pointed out that any requested increase should explain why and how it would be used.

Glenn Harris from the CRD came on Monday night to provide background, and in fact provided no new information to Council about the reasons for the increase beyond that in the Council package.  Councillors then proceeded to praise the program, but also noted that a business case had not been made, and that information was general in the extreme.  Despite the fact that no business case was presented, nor any specific examples of why the money was needed, nor how it would forward the program,  Council unanimously passed the amendment to the budget bylaw.

For the record, I am very concerned about climate change, but any program needs to be effective, accountable and transparent. Passing an increase to a budget just because the topic is climate change doesn’t mean outcomes will be what we would want, nor that the money will be effectively spent.

I wonder what it takes to get Council to demand proper information and only pass motions when they have such information.

Further I wonder what it takes to get council to meaningfully consider a budget within the cost of living?

After all, in the case of this particular motion, Coun. Murdock noted that the amount was “not astronomical,” presumably meaning the total amount in question, rather than the actual percentage increases.  A budget is made up of many little parts. All require a rigorous review, a review that I certainly did not see on Monday night.

I am very disappointed in Saanich Council on this issue.

Karen HarperSaanich

 

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