Taxpayers foot the bill for services

One month from today the writ will have dropped and the B.C. election period will have been underway for one week.

One month from today the writ will have dropped and the B.C. election period will have been underway for one week.

As your soon to be retiring MLA, there are a few points that I would like to pass on over my next few and what will be final reports as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for British Columbia.

For me the single most important point that I would like to pass on is a very sincere thank you to the citizens of the South Okanagan region.

As politicians we are often credited with those things that we play a role in the creation of, however it should never be forgotten that ultimately it is you, as taxpayers who are truly deserving of credit for it is the monies that you collectively pay that directly and indirectly fund the services and infrastructure that we depend on.

I raise this point because I have also observed a trend where there is a growing segment of the population who are expecting government to spend more but as taxpayers demand to pay less.

More recently I have observed that sometimes it is the very same taxpayers who will campaign aggressively against a tax increase but also will actively advocate for increased government spending on a project or program in a specific area.

Although I will not be running in this election I know with certainty that the Penticton Hospital, affordable seniors housing in Peachland, increased funding for health, education and public transportation are just a few of the areas that will arise over the course of the election writ period.

A decade ago it was not much different although in those days improvements to Okanagan infrastructure, more doctors and more local educational offerings were issues that dominated the campaign forums.

We are fortunate that many of the challenges that existed in our region a decade ago have been resolved and this is something all taxpayers can take credit in.  Your tax dollars helped to build tangible community assets and infrastructure that today we collectively benefit from.

Although these projects required tax dollars to fund they also required capable and experienced people working together to ensure they moved forward.

Building things in the private sector is very different from the public sector.  In the public sector the greatest amount of work is what is required to get to the groundbreaking stage of any project.

Bureaucracies, different levels of government and often partnering funding agreements, treasury board and/or council approvals at different levels, multiple elected and unelected officials in the decision making processes all combine to slow down and often derail many projects from getting past the idea stage.

The importance of having experienced and capable people who can drive projects forward is critically needed in public office.

Over the past decade I have been fortunate to work with some great mayors and councillors, regional district directors, MPs and fellow MLAs.

I often like to point out that nothing happens by accident and that is particularly true with public projects.

We are extremely fortunate here in the South Okanagan of the many talented and outstanding individuals who live here.

Time and time again individuals step up, give generously of their time and work together for a common goal that can benefit our local communities.

Every project that I have ever been involved with had members of the public who stepped forward to champion the cause.

There are far too many of these groups and citizens to recognize individually but let us recognize it is the people who live in this region that collectively are helping to build better communities.

Bill Barisoff is the MLA for the riding of Penticton.