A free-spending and weary city council is proposing an over-ambitious $361.8 Million consolidated budget in the last year of their term.
Rather than ‘setting the table for the future’, as Mayor Lisa Helps suggests, council should refocus and ‘clean up yesterday’s dishes and set the table for today,’ says Stan Bartlett, past chair of Grumpy Taxpayer$.
“Council should be reminded that the community is still in an unprecedented pandemic and many are still recovering from its many economic impacts. Council should take a step back, take a deep breath, retrench and focus on priorities and improving the cost and delivery of existing services,” he says.
While there are nothing but questions on a $361.8M consolidated budget, few taxpayers have weighed in during the public engagement efforts. A special committee of the whole meeting will be held Dec. 9 when a summary of public input will be presented to council.
Grumpy Taxpayer$ has many questions:
- Has the city reworked it’s budget in light of the extreme weather events of the past year with a few to climate mitigation and prioritizing emergency preparedness? ( Come hell or BC under water, CBC, the fifth estate)
- Considering the importance of roads, does it make sense to spend only about 1 per cent of the consolidated budget rehabilitating a high percentage of substandard major and local roads? (Bumpy city roads neglected, Nov. 2021.) Astonishingly, 27 per cent of major city roads in poor or fair condition, and 34 per cent of local roads.
- Why is council and the police board not aggressively lobbying the province for reimbursement of an estimated $500,000 annually for policing protests at the Legislature? (VicPD says protests have cost more than $320,000 so far this year, Nov. 18, 2021).
- The most important question – do residents and business owners feel they are getting good value for their amount of property taxes? An average residential owner pays $3,785 for property taxes and utilities. An average business owner pays $8,209 for property taxes, utilities and business licence (2022-27 Financial Plan, City of Victoria, page 70).
- Does the public know property taxes are forecast to almost double in 2023? (5.55 for residential and 5.98 per cent for business)?
- What can be done now in 2021-22 to mitigate those anticipated increases?
- What services can be jointly delivered in partnership with the other 12 municipalities in the region? The city delivers more than 200 services every day.
- Why were plans for a new Crystal Pool just abandoned and left for the next council, instead of an alternate location pursued?
- Why doesn’t the budget report on lawsuits against the city, the outcome and cost to the taxpayer? (Additional staff were added to the legal department recently).
- What’s council done for seniors lately? They represent almost 20 per cent of the population and some were particularly hard hit by the pandemic. What is the status of the city’s Seniors’ Action Plan (Nov. 2020) and implementing its recommendations?
- What is being done to focus on reducing workplace injuries? Total days lost to injuries increased 27 per cent in 2020, part of a six year trend (Page 49).
Your city budget, have your say, City of Victoria, Nov. 2021.