Balancing books on two fronts

In her enthusiasm and, I suspect, to make it more difficult for me to say ‘no’ to her request my seven-year-old is hopping up and down.

In her enthusiasm and, I suspect, to make it more difficult for me to say ‘no’ to her gleeful request – i.e. demand – my seven-year-old is hopping up and down.

She is hopeful I’ll take her and her brother to see The Lorax.

I sigh as dollar signs flash before my eyes.

“We just went to a movie two weeks ago,” I say. “Remember, we’re trying to save our money for our vacation this summer.”

“Does that mean we can’t see the movie?” she asks me, no longer bouncing.

“No. We just want to be able to save our money for other things. Bigger things.”

Ahh, the juggling act that is the family budget.

Without missing a beat – The Lorax temporarily forgotten – my kids begin rhyming off a list of things they’d like to see and do during their vacation, though it’s months away.

“We won’t be able to do everything that week,” I warn them. “Let’s vote on it, so that everyone can have a say.”

No one likes to be outvoted, but the discussion gives me a better sense of everyone’s expectations. And it allows the kids to appreciate, however temporarily, that there is a spending cap.

It makes me think back to interviews I conducted last week about Esquimalt’s 2012 municipal budget. ’Tis the season, as each municipality goes over the books and crunches the numbers.

It won’t be long before property owners find out how much their municipal taxes will cost them. Esquimalt property owners will likely face a tax hike, possibly higher than the year prior. According to Black Press council reporters, municipalities from Saanich to Sooke will likely see a property tax increase this year.

To make matters worse in Esquimalt, few residents have taken a proactive interest in budget deliberations. Four residents attended a public budget presentation last month.

It can’t be for lack of interest, since many people are quick to express their views after the budget is passed.

Modern Democracy co-founder Jason Ross, who donates his time videotaping various public meetings held in the Capital Region, filmed the recent Esquimalt budget meeting.

After posting the videos on YouTube, they were viewed 96 times. Granted, it’s not the stuff you want to spend a couple of hours watching, even if you are in the comfort of your own home, with a bowl of popcorn in hand.

But if your taxes go up and you didn’t attend any budget meetings or send in an email with your input, do you still have a right to grumble about a hike after your municipality’s budget is approved?

Sure, you do. But, what’s the point?

“(Residents) are obviously looking at a tax increase, and if they have concerns they should show up,” Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said last week. “You can’t complain after the fact if you don’t have an understanding of the process, and (aren’t) aware of all the cost implications.”

Attending the meetings, or, if possible, watching them online – cue the popcorn popper – gives taxpayers a better sense of the financial health of their communities.

“Everybody wants cheaper taxes, but I’m not sure they realize the impact,” Esquimalt Coun. Meagan Brame said recently.

True. Everyone in my house wants a fantastic vacation, and the kids are beginning to realize that we’ll have to tighten our belts now so we can maximize our fun later.

That’s not to say my daughter won’t jump up and down excitedly from time to time, asking to see The Lorax or making other such requests, or hold back her complaints when I say ‘no.’

But my hope is there will be fewer complaints and a bit more understanding.

Can your municipal councillors and mayors expect the same from you?

Erin McCracken is a reporter with the Victoria News.

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Neighbour details hearing ‘thuds’ the day girls found dead in Oak Bay

Jury at double-murder trial hears from Andrew Berry’s neighbour

International, Disney and Hallmark films set to be filmed in Victoria in 2019

Local and international production companies seeking out film locations in town

Toy Run organizer says motorcyclists unfairly targeted

Motorcycle toy drive returns Sept. 29 to Turkey Head

Saanich councillor wants the municipality to support opponents of Quebec’s secularism bill

Councillors will debate notice of motion from Coun. Zac de Vries on Aug. 12

VIDEO: Sparrows raise their chicks in Cadboro Bay deck planter

Jill Yoneda captured 11 days up close with tiny Junco sparrows

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Pamela Anderson adds star power to B.C. Green Party town hall

Celebrity attended Nanaimo meeting with representatives from U.S.-based environmental group

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

Chinook retention begins on North Island, but amid new size limit

DFO calls measures ‘difficult but necessary’ following rockslide on Fraser River

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Most Read