By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Dec. 6, 2012
Squamish straddles the middle ground when it comes to municipal spending, the latest such study reveals.
With 1 being the worst, Squamish ranks 68 in municipal spending among 153 communities surveyed by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
When limiting the consideration to real operating spending, Squamish managed a 1 per cent reduction in spending.
Coun. Heintzman said there might be some validity to the report, but said the CFIB analysis hasn’t always been thorough in the past.
The annual report, now in its fifth year, has a less charitable ranking for the community just north of Squamish.
With a rank of 2, Whistler was one of the worst communities for municipal spending this year.
B.C.’s Lower Mainland turned in a mixed performance between 2009 and 2010, with several of the larger municipalities demonstrating an improved commitment to fiscal discipline.
Chilliwack, Burnaby and Surrey topped the “Most Improved” category when rated according to per capita spending over that period.
By contrast, communities further east and north – such as Abbotsford, Pemberton, and the two Langley jurisdictions – turned in the most disappointing performances. Abbotsford per capita spending increased by close to 30 per cent.
CFIB says these are first signs that some B.C. municipalities are recognizing the need to get spending under control.
Nonetheless, it says, municipal spending continues to outpace the responsible benchmark of population growth plus inflation.
The latest report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) analyzes data from 2000 up to 2010.
“We like to give credit where it’s due, however, there’s a limit to our optimism,” said Laura Jones, executive vice-president of CFIB.
Jones said if spending had simply kept pace with population and inflation in the last one decade, BC residents could have saved $4.26 billion dollars, or $4,251 for a family of four.
But spending increased by 49 per cent, nearly four times the growth in population, although it seems to have abated in the past two years.
To finance the spending increases from 2000-2010, municipal taxes increased 69 per cent, government transfers increased 273 per cent and revenues from sales of services like parking and licenses increased 135 per cent.
Funding transfers from other levels of government to municipalities have more than tripled in the last decade, rising 273 per cent between 2000 and 2010.
Municipalities more than doubled the revenue they make from Sales of Services – everything from parking fees to business licenses.
In communities where population is shrinking, local governments are spending more, not the same or less.
The Village of Lytton once again ranked worst overall among all BC municipalities, and real operating spending per capita in Lytton increased by 29 per cent over the past year even while population declined by the same amount.