Civic spending ‘diet’ hailed by business group

Rapid growth in municipal costs in 2000s has slowed

Some Lower Mainland cities are beginning to rein in their “out-of-control” spending, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

The business lobby group issued its annual critique of civic spending rates, which shows B.C. municipal operational spending rose 49 per cent after being adjusted for inflation from 2000 to 2010.

That’s nearly four times the rate of population growth in the province and more than twice the rate of growth in disposable income for the average resident.

But CFIB executive vice-president Laura Jones said it’s a “promising sign” that the civic spending rate only rose one per cent from 2009 to 2010.

“It’s much like the early days of a diet – it really could go either way and only time will tell,” she said. “We’re still getting closer to the edge.”

The 2012 Municipal Spending Watch report card credits Burnaby, Surrey and Chilliwack as among the most improved cities for cost control, while Abbotsford, Pemberton and Langley City and Township were the “most disappointing.”

B.C. property taxes rose 69 per cent in the 2000s to fund higher civic spending, but government transfers to cities actually went up faster – by 273 per cent over the decade – while civic fees for services like parking and licences rose 135 per cent.

The Union of B.C. Municipalities has repeatedly taken issue with the CFIB reports, arguing they are simplistic and don’t take into account challenges like government cost downloading and runaway policing costs over which cities have little control.

In the new report, CFIB calculated a B.C. family of four would have saved $4,251 over the last decade if civic spending had not exceeded the growth in population and inflation.

UBCM previously estimated that reducing business tax rates to CFIB-demanded levels without cutting spending would trigger a 14.5 per cent residential tax increase of $230 for the average B.C. home.

A provincially appointed expert panel on business tax competitiveness considered the property tax issue earlier this year but largely sided with UBCM and did not recommend government attempt to forcibly lower business property tax rates.

Just Posted

Suspected impaired driver crashes into parked truck

Incident takes place Sunday night in Abbotsford

Man pleads guilty to domestic assault that ended in collision with police truck

Daniel Staples-Taylor is scheduled for sentencing July 4 in Abbotsford

New rules could curb house sizes in certain areas of Abbotsford

Public says subdivisions OK in infill areas, but houses are being built too large

Olympian Brent Hayden featured in a solo exhibition of his photography

The exhibit is entitled Time in Frames and takes place at the Mission Arts Council building

Serial killer Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec: victim’s family

Pickton was convicted in December 2007 of six counts of second degree murder

VIDEO: Culture Fest, Culture Feast in Abbotsford

Abbotsford Youth Commission celebrates Canadian Multiculturalism Day

Man facing charges after West End purse-snatching

A 47-year-old Vancouver woman was pushed to the ground

5 to start your day

Robert Pickton transferred to Quebec, Surrey’s rainbow sidewalk vandalized and more

Closing arguments expected in trial for twice convicted Canadian killer

Crown, defence expected to give closing arguments in Millard murder trial

Pigs crash yoga class in B.C.

First it was goats, now it’s pigs — you can get downward dog with the whole farm in Aldergrove

Canadians undertake the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping mission

A dozen Canadian peacekeepers arrive in Mali as yearlong mission begins

U.S. justices won’t hear case of anti-gay marriage florist

The case is regarding whether business owners can refuse on religious grounds to comply with anti-discrimination laws

Kangaroo stops play during Australian soccer match

The women’s game stopped play for more than 30 minutes on Monday due to the kangaroo

Surrey’s first rainbow crosswalk defaced 10 days after installation

‘I think it’s very disappointing someone would do this. It’s horrible,’ said Surrey resident who took photo of the damage

Most Read