Letters to the Editor: November 10

On financial restraint; On Cranbrook taxes; On election candidates

On Financial restraint

There is one common element amongst new candidates in this election, about which I am surprised.

It is the assumption by many of these candidates that they will, if elected, be able to greatly change the City’s budget. I wonder what magic wand and unknown skills they possess. Council has unanimously approved its Five Year Financial Plan, which was carefully crafted by very well qualified staff working in collaboration with Mayor, Council and Department Heads.

I have attended most budget meetings and all but a few council meetings over the last five years. I have rarely, if ever seen any of these new candidates attend these meetings where rationales and discussions were heard.

None of these candidates has provided insight as to what they consider frivolous spending. So scratching my head, I wonder if the following might be some of the items to which they refer. Subsidizing the Ministry of Highways to improve the West Entrance was a problem for a few councillors. It was the opinion of several Councillors that twin benches (a department decision) on 14th Avenue were not necessary. The bioswale on 14th Avenue is sorely misunderstood. The plant growth may not be pretty (to some) but there has not been a single flood since it was installed and the resulting debris and costly cleanups are gone.The total monetary sum of these items would not fill many potholes or lower taxes, let alone barely begin to pay for any infrastructure replacement. We must also remember a large part of the City’s budget is controlled by other authorities, policing and fire protection.

So come on candidates, please be specific and enlighten us about where you will cut and what you consider to be frivolous spending.

Jenny Humphrey

Candidates

I have quite recently moved to Cranbrook and I am not familiar with the political landscape of the city. Although I’ve read print materials about the candidates for Council and Mayor I attended the recent all candidates forum at the Key City Theatre in order to solidify or change my impressions of the candidates. To help voters reach a voting decision I’d like to share my opinions and feelings about the Mayoral candidates.

The three candidates for Mayor had widely different views of what Cranbrook needs so citizens have a clear choice.

I found Mr. York to be a fascinating, amusing man. He had some interesting ideas but seemed unsure of himself at times and didn’t articulated his platform as well as I would have liked.

Mr. Pratt was the biggest surprise to me. He was a negative angry man. He pulled out all the cliché’s ad nauseam about attracting business, cutting the budget and road repairs. Mr. Pratt didn’t seem to like anything about the present Council and Mayor’s efforts to improve Cranbrook’s quality of life.  I concluded that Mr. Pratt is a limited vision candidate with a slash and burn mentality. I was left wondering if he even liked Cranbrook.

Mayor Stetski displayed a serene countenance throughout the evening.  I thought he ably and proudly defended the current council’s term in office and presented a diverse vision for the future of Cranbrook. I liked Mayor Stetski’s positive attitude and multi- dimensional approach to make Cranbrook an even better place to live than it already is. I’m going to vote for Mayor Stetski.

E. Anthony Collins

Candidates

Have you received your voting instructions from the local CUPE Union in the mail? I am being told by the them for whom I should vote. Seriously? Of even more concern is the implicit, yet dire, warning that they are promoting a slate – a tax and spend Mayor (Stetski) and three councillors loyal to Mayor Stetski (Cross, Warner, and Blissett) who will ensure a majority on any vote at the Council table. All of CUPE’s choices promote social spending as a priority over basic infrastructure needs and protective services.

Increasing our taxes each and every year at a rate well above the cost of living over the span of 8 years (Mayor Stretski’s current three year spending record plus his tax and spend vision for the next 5 years) is a recipe for disaster. But wait, it is apparently affordable because Councillor Cross assures us “we can tax the businesses more because they are able to write off their taxes”. Sheesh! Really? She obviously has no idea what it takes to run a business. Is it mere coincidence that none of CUPE’s choices have the distinction of running a business?

Anyone with a willingness to increase taxes (I.e., Mayor Stretski and CUPE’s chosen few) can govern a city. True leadership, however, requires prioritizing spending to ensure the city spends within its means.

Thank you CUPE for letting me know who I will NOT vote for on November 15!

Alex Jensen

About Cranbrook taxes

Our previous letter to the editor has created quite the storm of interesting comments which definitely keeps the community engaged.   There have been a number of positive responses from the community in general, however a few incumbents and their supporters have disagreed and state they lack facts.   So here are the facts:    When our letter stated that Cranbrook is the 4th highest taxed jurisdiction the study was based on 27 communities in BC with population category range from 10,000 to 24,999.  This information is publicly available at civicinfobc.ca.   These are facts and not opinions.

Councillor Cross wrote a letter to the editor inferring that Cranbrook taxes are in the middle of the pack which is an opinion.   She states that she has researched 9 municipalities in BC with population category from 16,000 to 24,000 and includes Courtenay BC (population just over 24,000) and then quotes in the newspaper that   ‘…Cranbrook is around the middle.

This statement is incorrect.  So let’s review these 9 municipalities that she refers to and tell me if our municipal tax rates are in the middle as she wrote in her letter to the editor on Tuesday November 4th.

Residential Municipal Rate      Business Municipal Rate

City                 Residential Rate    City             Business Rate

Port Alberni         9.1145                 Cranbrook        19.3029

Cranbrook            7.3476                 Port Alberni       15.4923

Williams Lake      5.88                   Fort St John       14.5986

Ft St John              5.189                  Colwood            13.7962

Salmon Arm        4.91                    Williams Lake   12.71

Courtenay             4.04                   Pitt Meadows   12.4822

Pitt Meadows       4.01                   Salmon Arm     12.0018

Colwood                3.4916                  Courtenay         11.3279

White Rock            3.679                White Rock         8.728

*source www.civicinfo.bc.ca survey of residential and business municipal tax rates.

These 9 communities’ tell us that Cranbrook has the 2nd highest tax rate for residential and the highest business rate.      What Councillor Cross most likely meant was that the ”Tax Gap Rate” is in the middle.  There is a large difference between a Tax Rate and a ‘Tax Gap Rate’   The Tax Rate calculates how much you pay for the municipal portion of your taxes based on per $1,000 of assessed value.   The ‘Tax Gap Rate is the gap between the Residential Rate and The Business Rate. I trust this clarifies to Councillor Cross that indeed Cranbrook Tax Rates for both residential and business are some of the highest in BC.  Please visit www.civicinfobc.ca to verify these findings.  We (Christy and I)  have also  included the full study of 27 jurisdiction tax rates for population size however do not think it will be published in the local paper due to length requirements.  It is unfortunate that some choose to counterattack us personally when we are only pointing out the facts and encouraging community discussion about taxation and spending in our City and the need to control its escalating costs.

Jason & Christy Wheeldon

Boundary expansion

As the upcoming civic election draws to a close there is an issue a friend and I would like addressed.

A few years ago the Council of that day made a decision to bring the land that is now Shadow Mountain into the city limits. They did so without notifying taxpayers or informing them of potential costs or benefits to the city. They were also going to bring the huge land block of the East Hills in — again with no notice or discussion. This project included placing a road through the Community Forest.

I assume the land owners of the East Hill may still desire to have the their land within city limits, or subdivision.

I am hoping the candidates in this election will respond to this letter and let all the taxpayers know two things: 1. How you would vote on a request to bring the East Hills area into the city; 2. How open would you be with taxpayers prior to making ANY decision that would have lasting implications for them.

Lorill Love

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