Pitt Meadows council is considering two budget scenarios: increasing taxes to keep current service levels and a zero-per-cent tax increase.
If no major cuts are made to services, City financial staff estimate Pitt Meadows residents will have a 3.3-per-cent increase on their 2014 tax bill.
But a zero-per-cent increase would mean cutting the amount put into City reserves, policing services, and staff positions as well as other items, and this wouldn’t be a “sustainable practise,” said Mark Roberts, the City’s new director of finances and facilities.
“My position on this is not to recommend zero per cent,” Roberts said. “It will significantly affect service levels.”
Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters said the presentation on Tuesday of two different tax scenarios was “very, very informative.” But she’s worried that if council decides not to increase taxes now, the costs are simply being deferred.
“It was sobering – it’s definitely something we have to look at,” Walters said of the two scenarios.
Walters pointed out residents of Pitt Meadows keep asking for more services, and never is council asked to cut them.
“Our mandate is to deliver services to citizens,” she said.
Suggestions for cutting also included reducing firefighter training by 12 hours per member, eliminating the annual public arts funding which is $26,000, reducing City staff resulting in savings of $77,000, and eliminating the one vacant full-time police position, saving $70,000.
This would save about half a million dollars and therefore keep property taxes from going up next year.
Roberts said he’s impressed by the services provided by the City considering the average tax increase per household over the last 10 years has been $72.
“My opinion is the City of Pitt Meadows delivers a variety of good services... for a very reasonable value and budget,” Roberts said.
Pitt Meadows resident Tom Murray has been collecting a petition asking council to target a zero-per-cent tax increase.
The City’s budget planning takes place on Dec. 4 and 5, and continues on Dec. 12 and 16. The meetings are open to the public and there will be opportunities for input.
@ Copyright 2013