Re: The Nov. 8 View From City Hall column, written by Coun. Dale Bass (‘Where the money goes’):
It is interesting how Bass breaks down the figures on where our tax dollars are spent.
She states policing is at the top of budget expenses, at 16.5 per cent, followed by firefighting at 10.5 per cent.
Recreation and culture came in at 5.3 per cent, but in fact is really at 15.1 per cent when one combines all categories in the city operating within the scope of recreation.
For example, there are parks and play fields (4.4 per cent), arenas (2.5 per cent) and pools and the Tournament Capital Centre (2.9 centre).
Community planning includes social planning and this, too, was previously captured under the umbrella of recreation.
If one splits community planning and development (three per cent) in half, giving 1.5 per cent to recreation and culture, then the largest expense of our city tax dollars would be recreation and culture at 16.6 per cent.
Regarding city budgeting, I somehow get the feeling someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes.
The safety of our community is captured under policing (16.5 percent) and firefighting (10.5 per cent). So, spending on safety in Kamloops eats up 27 per cent of the budget.
Of course, as with recreation, those figures could be broken down into smaller segments, making it more palatable to digest.
What is included in the six per cent going to city administration? Committee meals and refreshments? Stationary? Trips to China? Are the City’s budget documents (including specific item breakdowns) easily accessible online for the residents to review? If so, where?
As taxpayers, we subsidize many programs to improve the quality of life in our city.
Recently, I answered a telephone survey regarding the No. 1 issue facing Kamloops and how we can address this.
After several questions, the solution options presented included raising taxes to improve services, raising taxes to maintain serves and maintaining taxes and reducing services.
There was no option for reducing taxes.
Why do council members and city administrators feel they can justify increasing our taxes every year? Every year our tax base increases and every year taxpayers are asked to dig deep into their pockets for budgeting additional city operations.
What is the annual percentage growth of our tax base? In other words, how many more taxpaying citizens move to Kamloops each year?
With an inflation rate of less than two per cent, why are our tax increases more than that amount?
Why not change budgeting perspectives and give the public feasible options on how to reduce taxes and improve services?
For some people, change is difficult to grasp, but if the current trajectory doesn’t change, the tax hole being dug is going to be so deep that we will never get ahead.
Bass writes: “Every extra thing you want — community centres, parks, more stop lights, increased policing — is an extra cost that will have an impact on the tax rate we set next year.”
How can we find ways to grow our city without an annual household tax increase? Some ideas include streamlining public services and reviewing and reducing the six per cent devoted to city administration, while also reviewing and reducing the number of managers.
There are good ideas out there, but for those intimidated by writing letters to the editor, nervous about attending public budget forums or feeling like they have given up on the whole process, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ensure your ideas are anonymous and delivered to council.
The ancestor to every action is a thought. We can work together to implement a better budget strategy. The first step is to have transparency when communicating to the public.
former sport development co-ordinator with the City of Kamloops