Examining spending

A report on municipal spending does not show Summerland in a flattering light.

A report on municipal spending, compiled by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, does not show Summerland in a flattering light.

Of 153 municipalities in British Columbia, Summerland was ranked among the worst, placing 20th from the bottom in terms of bad spending.

The report examines tax increases compared with the rate of inflation.

Using this benchmark, a community which can maintain its budget at last year’s level would receive high praise in the report while one which increased taxes slightly would be less well received.

The budgets and tax increases do not tell the complete story.

Taxes have risen in Summerland, but those increases have been modest.

This is thanks in part to the work of a finance committee which examines each item to decide if it can be supported. The scrutiny from this committee is part of the reason our budget remains reasonable.

A portion of the tax increases we have seen are to fund some significant and badly needed improvements. Road work, water upgrades and the new police station have all been needed.

Even without such projects, the costs of running a municipality will increase slightly each year as there are cost increases beyond the control of a local government. The costs of energy, supplies and labour will increase slightly from one year to the next. Attempting to keep spending at the level of a previous year would result in some cuts to services.

Reports and studies such as the one from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business are useful if they result in a careful consideration of public spending.

However, it would be a mistake to use a community’s expenditures or tax rate as the sole measure of its financial success or failure.