letter

LETTERS: Tax hike not only unpalatable, it is also unnecessary

Editor:

Re: Tough pill to swallow, March 18.

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.

If that is reduced, the shortfall is made up by property taxes.

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.

This council has decided to have twice as many committees as any previous council. There are so many, that the administrative budget has been increased to cover the cost of servicing them, and senior managers are burdened with extra time demands writing reports and attending meetings. To meet this demand an increase of $100,000 has been put in the Budget for extra staff.

In 2021, council approved the hiring of extra parks maintenance staff at a cost of $250,000 per year. Nice, but not necessary.

In November, 2019 council decided to “embark in a new direction” and fired the city manager. Evidently, the “new direction” was not quite ready to start as he was kept around to run things until March 31, 2020. Then COVID hit and they decided to ask him to stay on until May, 2020. In the end, the “not so new start” cost the taxpayers well over $300,000 in severance and recruitment costs. A totally frivolous and unnecessary expense – if he were so bad why keep him around for an extra six months?

It is against the law for a municipal government to have an operating deficit, and a council can get the boot from the province for doing so.

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

City of White RockLetter to the Editor

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Delta character - and former White Rock resident - Pansy May Stuttard inspects a loaded revolver in the cover photo for Jim Dwight and Gary Cullen’s fascinating biography, Lord don’t want me Devil won’t take me. Contributed photo
West Coast’s ‘Pistol-packin’ Pansy’ lives on in colourful biography

Infamous Delta character ended her days in White Rock and South Surrey

A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary. March 2021. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Reports of student attendance ‘dwindling’ at Surrey schools: teachers’ association

STA president said he’s heard from staff that students might not attend in-person for 4th quarter

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Chilliwack Search and Rescue volunteers say that a call on April 17 on Vedder Mountain was affected by bikers who rode through the rescue site, throwing rocks onto members and the patient. (Chilliwack Search and Rescue image)
Chilliwack Search and Rescue team, and patient, sprayed with rocks and dirt during rescue

Volunteer crew speaks out after riders on Vedder Mountain show no courtesy at accident scene

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
One man dead after shooting in Downtown Vancouver

This is Vancouver’s fifth homicide of the year

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Most Read