Quesnel residents could see a 6.9% tax increase for 2022.
According to Director of Corporate and Financial Services, Kari Bolton, the increase for the average household in the city is around $92.34.
Councillor Ron Paull said he wanted to get that down to around a 5% increase.
“I understand there’s pressures there, particularly as a result of the Tolko closure,” Councillor Paull said,
“But when it comes right down to it, every other municipality in the Province of British Columbia is faced with the prospect of rising RCMP costs, inflation, and all kinds of other things that are common to Quesnel.”
Mayor Bob Simpson asked Paull which services and programs he thought should be cut.
“Just little things, like memberships and subscriptions, going up a thousand dollars, I’m wondering what that’s all about,” Paull said.
“Council travel and training, it’s actually good to see that coming down from $35,000 to $23,000, and I will say right here and now that I will not be going to NCLGA and UBCM just to help keep the budget in line.”
Mayor Simpson interrupted Paull by saying the cuts would not make a difference.
“You can position yourself all you want as the rate-payer’s champion, but what you’re talking about would have no negligible affect on the operating budget whatsoever,” Simpson said.
“Either accumulate a whole bunch of your little ones to $170,000 (one percent of the operating budget) or let’s talk about $170,000 plus.”
Simpson later reiterated that the reason the budget was so high was because of council decisions.
“Not staff decisions, not some conspiracy theory, because of council decisions,” Simpson said.
“Council adds FTE, council decides snow standards, council decides programs and services, council decides on expansion of building footprint. I want to make that perfectly clear that council is the arbiter of the tax increase, not staff, and again. If we can’t find an area that we feel is palatable to the people that we represent, where they would accept program and service cuts, then the number is what the number is relative to that program and service level.”
Councillor Paull put motions on the floor to cut back by one full-time employee for the RCMP, to have staff report on how to reduce the frequency of driveway snow removal, and to cut the council and staff travel and training budget in half. All three motions did not have a seconder, and did not move forward.