The editorial writer was quite correct in surmising the proposed White Rock tax hike is unpalatable to taxpayers. It is also unnecessary.
The tax increase of 4.8 per cent (not 4.28 per cent) is just too high.
Since Democracy Direct took over City Hall, they have inflicted on us a cumulative tax increase of 11.8 per cent – more than double the CPI for the same period.
There is no good reason for that other than just poor financial management.
Through their three years, they have been the beneficiaries of huge windfalls from building permit fees: $2.3M in 2019, $3M, in 2021, and $4M projected for 2021. A normal expectation for these fees might be $350,000 per year.
There have been corresponding large increases in property taxes from new construction of $322,000 in 2020, and a conservative forecast of $575,000 in 2021.
Finally, council received $3.8M from the province to deal with the extra costs of dealing with COVID through 2020 and 2021.
Despite all this, council still requires these excessive tax increases. How can that be?
The answer can only be fiscal mismanagement and inattention to fiduciary responsibilities.
Pay parking is really White Rock’s only industry. In a normal year, it would bring in $3.5M.
Notwithstanding the pier reconstruction work in 2019, council elected to give away much of it for free in 2020 and 2021. In 2020, the net revenue was down $742,000 and for 2021, a reduction of $964,000 is planned.
The beneficiaries of this largesse are residents of Surrey. The taxpayers of White Rock not only cover the deficit through their taxes, but don’t even get a reduction in their parking decal fees.
In 2021, council approved the hiring of extra parks maintenance staff at a cost of $250,000 per year. Nice, but not necessary.
In 2020, this council committed the cardinal financial sin of balancing a projected operating deficit by dipping into capital reserves for $220,000.
Now for 2021, they must replace that $220,000 with taxation as a source of revenue plus increase taxation to replace that money in the reserves. It is most assuredly a fool’s game and a recipe for financial disaster.
Regardless, what we are being subjected to is not good governance and needs to be changed. This is our money the council is playing with. The taxpayers of White Rock deserve better.
Wayne Baldwin, White Rock
Editor’s note: Wayne Baldwin is a former mayor of the City of White Rock