Even though budget deliberations have wrapped up for the year, tax increases will be back in front of council next month.
Coun. Albert Koehler has submitted a notice of motion recommending that when administration prepares the 2014 draft budget, they do so with the caveat that the general levy increase not exceed the level of inflation. The proposal will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.
The consumer price index (CPI) is a measure of rising costs of goods that consumers and taxpayers understand, said Koehler.
“It would be nice if we could manage to hold the taxes on this [CPI] because we owe it to our taxpayers,” said Koehler. “The taxes are given to us in trust so that we manage them properly.”
Some Canadian communities measure their spending against a municipal price index, which takes into consideration expenses such as labour, asphalt and waste management that aren’t weighted in the average homeowner’s basket.
The city doesn’t have an MPI and a proposal from Maple Ridge to the Union of B.C. Municipalities to have the development of a provincial one incorporated into the work of the municipal auditor general last year wasn’t endorsed.
During February’s budget deliberations, Koehler attempted to bring forward a similar request to hold the general levy increase to two per cent instead of the approved 3.5 per cent, but was told it was too late in the process.
The increase to the city’s 2013 operating budget was only 0.65 per cent, but that was supplemented by a 1.85 per cent increase to the road rehabilitation levy and a one per cent increase to fund a new general infrastructure pot.
Discussions on the budget for the 2014 fiscal year will begin Nov. 27. Currently the CPI for 2013 is 1.5 per cent.
However Koehler said the CPI limit wouldn’t be set in stone. “In case there’s an emergency… that’s a different story. Then we have to sit down again and see how we manage,” he said.
Koehler said he believes the city owes it to the taxpayers to provide a level playing field and have all costs rise at the same rate.
“And we at city hall just have to be smart and work around it, be fiscally prudent,” he said. “That’s what I campaigned for one and half years ago and, by and large, so did other councillors, from what I remember. There were always those words going around: fiscal prudence and fiscal responsibility. And I would like to come up with that.”