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Watching taxes

Property taxes in Summerland will likely go up this year, but the increase, estimated at one per cent or less, is considerably smaller than in previous years.

Last year, the increase was 2.5 per cent and a year earlier, it was 2.2 per cent. Before that, increases close to five per cent had been recorded for several years.

Recent tax increases are a departure from the days when, for many years, councils approved budgets with no increases or increases of one per cent.

Taxpayers applaud such budgets as they are able to hold on to a little more of their money, but the ongoing belt-tightening came at a cost.

A number of budget items, such as labour, supplies and equipment, will continually increase.

To balance budgets without raising taxes, the municipality is eventually forced to make some cuts.

The idea of “trimming the fat,” or eliminating waste spending at the municipal level, does not work since municipalities already run lean budgets.

There simply is not much fat to trim.

At best, belt-tightening measures can work for a year or two, but eventually the rising costs will add up.

While we have seen higher tax rates in the last few years, we have also received some badly needed upgrades to our community.

We now have an expanded water supply, a new water treatment facility, improved roads and more.

This year, construction will also begin on a new police station — something Summerland has needed for many years.

Some of the other infrastructure and municipally-owned buildings in Summerland will have to be replaced or upgraded in the near future.

And we as a community will have to pay those bills.