September 10, 2014 - 1:27 PM
KELOWNA – A group of three Kelowna residents who will run together for council this fall are vowing to freeze taxes and address what they say is a lack of transparency in how the city is managed.
The group, Taxpayers First, is made up of two former councillors and a local realtor.
Carol Gran, Dale Olson and Graeme James have formally announced they will run together November 15. Gran says their primary mandate if elected will be to “return City Hall to the citizens of Kelowna by stopping waste and tax increases.”
“I’ve been toying with this idea for a long time,” Gran says. “I know that slates work and I know that they’re good for elections. I think the reason people don’t vote is because they feel helpless.”
Gran, a former Kelowna city councillor, says their first order of business will be to introduce a bylaw prohibiting property tax increases for the next four years.
“People are frustrated with the amount of taxes they pay,” she says. “Local governments just decided when they finished their budget deliberations that we can afford to pay two per cent or three per cent and they just take it out of your wallet. And if you don’t pay the bill they take your house. It’s just not democratic.”
Gran says their decision is not based on a dislike of any current councillors but on a dissatisfaction with the process.
“If you’re a taxpayer in Kelowna and your whole family makes $75,000 and it takes two of you working to do that, and you hear that 300 out of 700 employees at City Hall make that much on their own, plus all the benefits, it’s discouraging because you’re paying the bill.”
Gran says she would also like to see a chance for average residents to speak to council and have their say.
“We want an open mic spot on every council meeting. If you want to criticize then that’s okay. The taxpayers are left out completely and many think that (councillors) are just rubber-stamping what the staff tells them to do.”
Gran says they would like to attract two more candidates to the slate, which if elected, would give them a majority on council.
“We decided we would start with three people but if people come forward that we want to run with we’re more than happy to enlarge the slate.”
Gran says they are not interested in going to war with the current council or staff, but instead give residents a chance to have more input in the decisions that affect their day-to-day lives.
“Slates are a little bit intimidating to some people,” she says. “I think people worry about a takeover by a special interest group but I want taxpayers to know there is nothing sinister here. It is in fact a really good thing. We’re not a special interest group, we’re just three people who want the best for our community.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014