October 17, 2013 - 8:30 AM
VERNON - Vernon’s mayor took an opportunity to confront B.C.’s Minister of Finance on a matter of fairness for all municipalities at a luncheon Wednesday.
Mayor Rob Sawatzky said the provincial government's budget accomplishments were built by downloading services to municipalities. He asked Finance Minister Michael de Jong if he had plans to help local governments cope with new responsibilities off loaded by the province.
“Local government doesn’t mind taking on those responsibilities provided we have the ability to generate the revenue to do it,” Sawatzky said.
He said other jurisdictions enjoy revenue opportunities not available to the City of Vernon, like a slice of the sales tax.
“Do you have any sort of plan for addressing that?” Sawatzky said.
De Jong countered that the shift in decision-making from the provincial to local level is in the best interests of the community.
“We need to create a system where local champions can say yes (to projects),” de Jong said.
He added his government is connecting local government with steady revenue streams, such as cash accrued through traffic tickets, for example.
“A few years ago we said you get all that,” de Jong said.
As for new revenue pools, de Jong was empty handed.
The Finance Minister’s visit was part of his province-wide tour to get public input on the 2014 budget.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013