EDITORIAL: Examining finances

Municipal budget will likely mean higher taxes

Members of municipal council and municipal staff around the province are currently examining figures and counting costs as they plan the 2020 budget.

The budget covers the costs involved in providing local government services. It includes costs such as policing and other protective services, utilities, road construction and maintenance, recreation facilities and services, park maintenance, the community’s share of public transit costs, administration costs and more.

Each year, these costs increase as wage contracts and costs of supplies tend to rise.

As a result of these increases, property taxes in most B.C. communities will increase once again this year.

While nobody likes a tax increase, the increases are necessary in order to maintain existing levels of services provided by the municipality.

READ ALSO: Summerland taxes expected to rise by 4.0%

READ ALSO: Summerland’s proposed budget requires $16,382,355

There is no sustainable way to avoid these increases.

Some may suggest a municipal government simply tighten the belt and find efficiencies in order to cut costs or at least hold taxes to present levels, thereby avoiding the need for an increase.

However, municipal budgets are carefully scrutinized, and if there were reasonable ways to streamline operations or find ways to trim costs, these changes would most likely be implemented.

Others might suggest holding back on the amount of money put into future reserves.

This could provide short-term relief, but eventually, roads will need significant repairs, water, sewer or power lines will need to be replaced and municipally-owned facilities will require upgrades or replacement.

At best, cutting back on reserve funding would only delay the inevitable. Sooner or later, the municipality will need funds for capital projects. Even with grant funding, the municipality still pays a portion of these costs.

Some may suggest cutting some of the services provided by the municipality.

The question is which services should be cut?

Road maintenance and winter snow clearing are essential. Police and protective services cannot be cancelled. Utilities must be maintained.

Members of the public need to be aware of the budget process at this time, and still speak out if there are areas of concern.

However when raising concerns, one should always consider the funds necessary to best provide the services a community needs.

— Black Press

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