"Reason is always a kind of brute force; those who appeal to the head rather than the heart, however pallid and polite, are necessarily men of violence. We speak of 'touching' a man's heart, but we can do nothing to his head but hit it." --G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You call that consultation?

We've just distributed the following news release to news outlets throughout the Metro Vancouver area. An important subject:

October 11, 2011

O’Neill slams Metro for poor budget consultation

COQUITLAM – Coquitlam City Council candidate Terry O’Neill is charging that Metro Vancouver is thwarting public participation in the region’s 2012 budget-planning process.

O’Neill points out that a newspaper advertisement, placed by Metro Vancouver in at least one major daily Vancouver newspaper on October 8, encouraged the public to visit Metro’s website, www.metrovancouver.org, to view a presentation on the region’s budget plans, and then to comment or ask questions from Oct. 12-14.

However, as of midday October 11, Metro’s website contained no links to any such presentation. Employing the site’s search engine, to find “2012 Budget Public Consultation Forum,” led website users to a blank page. A spokesman for Metro later said the organization was working to post the material by day’s end.

“How can Metro Vancouver expect the public to ask intelligent questions or make meaningful comments on its budget plans when, on the eve of the narrow window in which the public actually has the opportunity to participate online in the planning, Metro hasn’t even disclosed its promised budget presentation?” O’Neill asks. “It looks like they’re just going through the motions.”

Furthermore, Metro Vancouver’s budget-approval schedule gives board members precious little time to consider what public input there might be. In fact, Metro Vancouver’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet October 13—in the middle of the online public-consultation process.

Metro then plans to stage a budget workshop for the board on October 19, at which time it hopes the draft budget will be endorsed, along with recommendations for adoption of the budget and related bylaws by the Board on October 28th.

The draft 2012 budget* calls for a 1.2-percent spending increase. Metro predicts the overall impact on a theoretical average household in the region (assessed value of $605,000) would be an increase of $11 in taxes and charges, for a total of $524.

“Thankfully, the planned rise in expenditures is well below this year’s spending increase of over five percent,” O’Neill says. “But the public should still be a concerned about the long-term trend of Metro’s spending increases, particularly in light of Metro mayors’ recent decision to boost property and gasoline taxes to pay for the Evergreen Line.”

Over the four-year period from 2005 to 2009, Metro Vancouver’s annual expenditures grew by an average 7.5 percent a year. This compares to average annual population growth of only 1.7 percent, and average annual inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) of only 1.8 percent.



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