A study of taxes

There isn't much excess left to pare down to avoid a small tax increase for Summerland.

Municipal council, staff and the municipality’s finance committee are working to draft the budget for 2013.

The budget, at more than $10 million, covers the costs of keeping the municipality running.

As costs increase, the budget figures must also increase in order to maintain the same level of services as in the past.

While tax increases are never pleasant, the increases are needed in order to maintain the level of service provided by the municipality.

Last year, taxes rose by 1.5 per cent and the year before, the increase was one per cent.

Those responsible for the budget have an unenviable task before them. The total costs for the municipality are not cheap and the money needed will come from the taxpayers who want to know they are getting the best possible value.

If comments made following previous budgets are any indication, there will be some opposition to any tax increase, no matter how small.

In the last municipal survey, half of those who responded wanted the same level of services or a reduction in order to keep the tax burden the same. Another 10 per cent wanted services cut in order to have a lower tax rate.

The reasons often given for opposition to tax increases are that the existing tax burden is already too high or that the budget can be trimmed to cut wasteful spending.

Government budgets, particularly at the municipal level, are scrutinized carefully and the elected representatives know they must answer for every dollar. There is no room to tighten the budget while maintaining the present level of services.

For those who would still argue that the tax burden is already too high, we would ask for clarification.

 

Which services should be cut and how much should they be cut?