Northerners want municipalities to reduce spending

Another recent study by the ICBA showed spending by municipalities is currently going up twice as fast as inflation, calling it out of control and unsustainable.

92 per cent of those in the ICBA poll say that they strongly or moderately agree that they would support candidates who commit to reduced municipal spending and taxes, almost 10 per cent higher than the provincial average of 82.8 per cent.

An overwhelming 98 per cent said they strongly or moderately agree that mayoral candidates need to make their spending and taxation positions clear before they will vote for them, as well as 96 per cent for council candidates.

If those potentially running for office take note, Fort St. John could be seeing a campaign period full of promises of lower taxes and reduced spending.

However, ICBA President Philip Hochstein says current municipal leaders are out of touch with what the communities want. He points out that there is nothing regarding lowering municipal spending on the agenda for this week's UBCM in Vancouver.

95 per cent of Fort St. John's budget is spent on services like fire, police, snow removal, garbage pickup and park maintenance. City Manager Dianne Hunter says that if residents would prefer to pay less taxes and reduce services, the city would respond to that.

However, she says that it's not possible to keep the level of services the same and keep it to the growth inflation. That's because Fort St. John keeps growing.

"You can only keep your spending to inflation if there's no growth in the community. But if your community's growing and you're adding more streets, you're adding more amenities… to keep your budget the same means you really have to reduce services."

She says it becomes a "trade-off" between what the services the city wants and what they want to pay, and that Fort St. John can't just be grouped in with the rest of the North.

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About Erica Fisher 4010 Articles

Erica is a reporter for Moose FM and energeticcity.ca in Fort St. John, B.C. She grew up in Victoria, B.C. and received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.