I was re-reading the 2014 District of Central Saanich Budget Update and it struck me that the first sentence, “It’s a difficult task each year to keep taxes low while maintaining services,” is getting to be a bit of a cliché.
Whether or not taxes are low is debatable but I think what was meant was it is difficult to keep tax increases low. Calling this year’s increase low is also debatable because once again the increase exceeds the inflation/cost of living rate (I think this is the 15th year in a row that that has happened).
I would have expected that citizens would be up in arms already protesting the relentless tax increases! I suggest that taxes could be lowered by refusing to continue to hire new staff and not automatically giving staff wage increases regardless of any increase in productivity.
The police service could certainly be reviewed with additional decreases in mind (I’ve mentioned before that the Central Saanich police service has one of the lowest case loads).
And here are a few more suggestions off the top of my head for reducing the expenditure side of the budget:
1. Find a way to delay street lights coming on at least by one hour. Presently, they come on when there is still sufficient day light.
2. Contract out park maintenance.
3. Don’t send out two or more maintenance staff for jobs that one person could do.
4. Replace (over time) the big SUVs that the police use with smaller, fuel efficient vehicles. And review the necessity of other staff driving relatively large trucks when smaller ones or small vehicles would suffice (for example, for reading water meters).
5. These suggestions may be only the tip of the iceberg so if another staff must be hired, make the job function (at least part time) to review current practices and actively look for cost savings.
6. Not a direct saving but do away with most stop signs in residential areas and replace with yield signs or no signage. It is not necessary to come to a complete stop at most residential intersections which wastes fuel (and increases CO2 emissions).
Some brave jurisdictions have found that no signage actually reduces accident rates because drivers become very cautious at unsigned intersections.
I must say that I am negatively emotional about the way the municipality takes more and more money out of my pocket every year. Senior governments don’t seem to have to resort to yearly tax increases maybe because citizens would be up in arms.