Some councillors in Salmon Arm are unhappy with research conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) that tracks growth in municipal operating spending across the province.
CFIB’s report looks at the growth in operating spending by every municipality through the same lens to determine if the trends are sustainable over time. The data comes from the municipalities themselves.
Councillor Tim Lavery’s main point seems to be that the provincial inflation rate is the wrong proxy to measure pressure on municipal costs, and therefore municipalities should be given a blank cheque to increase spending since there are just so many darn costs city council cannot control. This backwards logic is exactly why CFIB provides analysis on municipal spending.
Data provided by Salmon Arm shows inflation-adjusted operating expenditures increased 33 per cent between 2004 and 2014 compared to population growth of only 11 per cent. The provincial inflation rate is what most residents and small business owners feel in their own wallets. While not perfect, it serves as a baseline for what British Columbians are seeing in terms of cost of living increases. And after all, aren’t they the ones paying for their local government?
Growth in municipal spending at that rate necessitates tax increases. The average Salmon Arm resident in 2015 saw their municipal tax bill increase 37 per cent compared to 2005 ($1,415 in 2015, $1,031 in 2005). And council places the burden even more on businesses, which pay almost two and a half times more than residents on the same valued property.
Politicians dismissing research they haven’t taken the time to understand, or even read, helps no one. We would be more than happy to sit down with the councillors and have an informed discussion of the issues and the important context CFIB’s research can provide.
Vice President, B.C. and Alberta
Canadian Federation of Independent Business