Look for Vision's spin machine to blame the Big Bad NPA™ for the tax hike
While some civic bloggers were serving up pablum about the endless stream of pronouncements from the Vancouver Mayor's office regarding the appointment of Yet Another Task Force (or YATF), our crack CityCaucus.com research team was busy reviewing Vancouver's preliminary 2009/10 budget.
If we were to sum up the budget options presented to Council yesterday, it might go something like this: Bleak. Bleaker. And oh my gawd, I've just been robbed!
The three options put forward by astute City of Vancouver Budget Director Annette Klein are quite grim for taxpayers. One of the least costly options is raising taxes by about 8.29%, including the promised tax shift. And believe it or not, this is the 'Chevy Chevette' option. Almost no new programs, no big expansion of city operations, and no power steering. Er, well at least the first two.
Any way you look at Vancouver's budget options, this is going to be a very difficult pill to swallow for most Vancouver taxpayers who've seen their home values plummeting over the last six months. The only real option to reduce tax increases will be for Council to choose between cutting back on services, or begin contracting out. Given that Vancouver has elected a new labour-backed government, don't count on either.
On a separate note, we found one interesting line buried in the budget report. It reads:
"The Olympic Village project does not impact the 2009 Operating Budget or property taxes."
Not sure if you'll be reading this in the local headlines tomorrow. Rest assured the Mayor's PR team won't be cranking out a news release or drafting talking points for him on this one.
One thing you can lay money on is that the blame game exercise is about to get cranked up again. Expect Vision's vipers to come out in full attack mode against the big, bad former NPA regime who left them with no option but to increase taxes.
If Vision does go on the attack, we look forward to dusting off the meticulously recorded CityCaucus.com spreadsheets with the line-by-line voting record of Vision during the 2006-2008 budgets. There wasn't a program they wanted the NPA to cut, nor a police officer they didn't want to hire. All of which would have cost serious dough in the current budget, had it all been implemented.
I vividly recall the 2006 budget where Vision kept Council running until 5 am in the morning as part of their budget debate filibuster. They meticulously debated line item by line item fighting every single proposed budget cut.
Now that Vision is in power, it will be interesting to see how they balance their desire for a "radical" and "activist" government, with the taxpayers ability to pay.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled serving of pablum.