Business targets rising municipal costs

target

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business tracks municipal spending.

VANCOUVER – With municipal elections approaching in November, B.C. business groups are renewing their pressure on contenders to slow the rapid growth of local government spending.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has asked mayors and councillors attending the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention to sign a “taxpayer pledge” that calls on them to hold operating expense growth down to the combined increase in population and inflation, and narrow the gap between property tax rates for business and residential properties.

The CFIB calculates that B.C.’s municipal operating spending rose nearly 58 per cent between 2000 and 2008, twice as fast as population and inflation grew.

Sechelt Mayor Darren Inkster signed the taxpayer pledge Wednesday, as did Port Moody councillor Diana Dilworth and Coquitlam councillor Linda Reimer. Coquitlam council candidates Terry O’Neill and Andy Shen also stepped up, along with Vancouver mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton and three contenders for Vancouver council seats.

Shachi Kurl, the B.C. director of the CFIB, said the initial response is good, considering her group was told not a single incumbent would publicly support the pledge. She’s hoping candidates for municipal office will carry the taxpayer pledge message into their campaigns.

The UBCM executive issued its own analysis this spring, rebutting several years of CFIB claims that municipal spending is out of control. The UBCM analysis points to rising police, firefighting and recreation costs, as well as those imposed by senior governments such as paying for carbon offsets.

Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders also signed the pledge, although he isn’t seeking re-election. He said the tax targets are similar to what his council has accomplished by this year, and he would have signed the pledge if he was running in November.

Unionized municipal workers have to look at the state of the economy and see if their wage demands are holding back the growth of their community’s business tax base, Saunders said in an interview.

“The private sector can’t expect a cost of living pay increase every year, so I don’t think it’s fair in relation to union or private to say one’s going to get it but not the other,” he said.

Joining the CFIB in this year’s push for spending restraint is the Independent Contractors and Business Association. The ICBA produced a report detailing a similarly steep rise in municipal fees for construction, linking it to union contracts that feature pay and perks well beyond the private sector average of recent years.

ICBA president Phil Hochstein said “gold plated” union contracts with wage increases beyond inflation and benefits such as cash payouts for unused sick days are a key driver of costs.

“Unions are not to blame,” Hochstein said. “It is municipal politicians who have forgotten how to say no to everything but tax increases.”

Just Posted

Surrey mayor the lone vote against regional business licensing for ride hailing

Metro Vancouver mayors have voted to fast-track regional licensing in early 2020

Music Lottery concerts follow cancelled Cloverdale series at Shannon Hall

Rebranded effort ‘a fundraising program that supports venues and the musicians that play in them’

Surrey Liberal MPs pay tribute to Andrew Scheer

Scheer announced Thursday he will resign as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada

Inaugural Cloverdale Toy Drive brings in more than 200 toys

Fundraiser benefitted Cloverdale Christmas Hamper program; will turn into an annual event, says Wheatley

Surrey YMCA pool to be upgraded thanks to $250K in community gaming grants

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver is one of 63 non-profits receiving a total of $5M from the grants this year

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

BC Hydro offers tips as collisions with power poles increase

Region with the largest spike in collisions was the Lower Mainland at 16 per cent

Canadian airline passengers to be eligible for $1,000 in compensation for delayed flights

Passengers can also receive compensation for overbooking, lost luggage and other inconveniences

Second snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla Highway

Another 20 cm of snow is expected to fall by early Friday

FVRD emergency plan only ‘partially meeting’ expectations, says auditor

Regional district says they are already working on shortfalls in emergency management

RCMP must bury three sex mannequins found in Manning Park

Police tasked with ensuring the mannequins were completely disposed of

B.C. seniors need better vaccine protection, advocate says

Home support down, day programs up in annual rating

Burnaby man charged with sexual assault after multiple groping incidents

Jorge Benjamin Bernal, 29, is facing four counts of sexual assault

RCMP rescue wounded raven on Vancouver Island highway

Bird expected to make full recovery

Most Read