Letters to the Editor

Taxpayers subsidize the private sector

To the editor:

Kelowna’s proposed 6.5 per cent tax increase shows the high price taxpayers and utility ratepayers must pay for urban growth.

The costs for roads, parks, sewer and water supplies are coming due after 10 years of unprecedented new growth. Unfortunately the costs are highly inflationary and are much cause for public concern.

For example, during the 27 months between July 2005 and October 2007, Kelowna’s new infrastructure cost estimates rose 49 per cent from $607 million to $906 million—a rate of 11 per cent per month.

Placing the responsibility for new infrastructure on residents and ratepayers is dead wrong. New developments drive the need for new infrastructure and developers should shoulder the cost.

Taxpayers and ratepayers cannot continue to pay the current 27 per cent public subsidy to the private sector—it is not sustainable.

The city is not addressing the cost side of the ledger by eliminating public subsidies for development cost charges. Rather, it is using the revenue side of the ledger to raise taxes and utility rates.

The city must change the way it manages its development cost charges (DCC) program.

The single most important change is to stop the practice of providing public subsidies for DCCs to private developers, which will save an estimated $240 million by the year 2020.

Inflation costs of infrastructure (currently 20 per cent) and of financing (4.5 per cent) will raise this estimate well beyond the $2 billion mark by the year 2020.

Residents have every right to be alarmed since there will be no public hearings held on either the 20-Year Financial Strategy or the 2008 Financial Plan.

Residents are urged to contact their neighbourhood associations to seek ways to change the city’s financial strategy of subsidizing private developers.

Residents need to speak loudly and in a unified voice on this matter and demand a public hearing before council of the updates to the 20-Year Financial Strategy and the 2008 Financial Plan.

Richard Drinnan,

Kelowna

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