Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Owners Pay, While Others Play

By: Larry Patella

Glaring headlines in today’s Fish Wrapper “CITY WILL INCREASE PROPERTY TAX RATE’ is proof positive that what we have on today’s Vancouver City Council is a group of Sheep led by the Sheep Herder Mayor Tim “I was against bridge tolls before I was for them” Leavitt. Where was the discussion about budget cuts? There wasn't any. To say I am disappointed in Turlay and Stewart who voted with the sheep herder is an understatement. One can only hope that Turlay has not fallen under the spell of Burkman.

Theoretically we elect council members to represent us, yet their only solution to any and all fiscal matters is to raise taxes. They are apparently unaware that to continually pick the taxpayer pockets is to plunge us deeper into a recession. My only conclusion to their obscene behavior is they do not have a clue about how to manage the hard earned tax dollars they pick from our pocket. They are by their consistent solutions, RAISE TAXES, incapable of performing their duties as the “CUSTODIAN OF OUR HARD EARNED TAX DOLLARS.

Having many years ago sat on the Budget Review Committee, a committee that no longer exist and one that Mayor “I was against Bridge Tolls before I was for them” Leavitt, promised to restore, I am acutely aware of the city’s approach to developing a budget. Their agenda in those days were to not even address spending cuts. REVENUE Enhancement was the only topic open for discussion. It appears that nothing has changed. Sad isn't it.

Budgeting is not rocket science. It is simple. you just gather all department heads together with their prioritized spending plan. Then require them to justify each and every expenditure. You then create city wide prioritized list of expenditures and eliminate from the bottom up those they are outside a balanced budget.

Unfortunately our current budget process is just the opposite. Department heads are allowed to present their spending plan and taxes are raised without much discussion to meet their budget request. That is why no matter how much in taxes are picked from our pockets there is never enough.

In case you have not read the entire Fish Wrapper Property Tax Increase Article, buried near the end of the article on page A2 our hard working council unanimously agreed to:

a. Raise garbage rate 1.5%

b. A 5% increase on water and surface water rates in 2013 and 2014 along with a somewhat smaller increase in sewer rates.

c. Increase Monthly utility rates by $2.07 in 2013 and $2.18 in 2014.

d. One part of the article has me confused. It states that the city was helped by the Fire District 5 and Vancouver Public Schools. Apparently the Fire District commissions on November 9th approved giving the city a onetime payment of 1.3 million to pay for 13 fire fighters and the school district agreed to keep paying for a school resource officer. Apparently the behavior of our school children require the presence of a policeman. What the article failed to report is where the hell did the fire district get the 1.3 million or that the Schools are looking to dig deeper into our pockets with new school tax levies. Didn't those dollars already or won't they in the future come out of our other pockets

I find it interesting that nowhere in the Fish Wrappers article is their even a hint of discussion by the council to PRIORITIZE SPENDING or to CUT SPENDING. Smells like a good old fashioned smoke filled backroom deal that was agreed upon prior to the public meeting..

I have a few suggestions:

a. Sell the Hilton Hotel it should save us about 4 million a year
b. Privatize the Parking Garages –should save us about 2 million a year
c. Dump the CRC Project – Should save us Billions
d. Reduce or eliminate the city’s automobile fleet – paying mileage is much less expensive
e. Disallow No bid contracts – should save us millions
f. Stop Subsidizing Waste Connections –Let them buy their own garbage can
g. Stop subsidizing millionaire developers with property tax breaks
h. Scuttle as the voters have requested Light Rail the Gravy/Crime Train and curtail C-Tran wasteful spending
i. And last but not lease, each council member should ask themselves this question before they vote to spend one red cent of taxpayer hard earned money:

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