sam2Chilliwack Councilor Sam Waddington says he’d be OK with a higher tax increase than 1.49%…IF it means being able to spend more on police, fire rescue, or amenities.
He says it comes down to the question of what people want in their community.

“So when we’re looking for new amenities…when we want different things to do, when we want our town to look differently or to be safer…that all costs money and I just see that we’re well below the spending average.”

Mayor Sharon Gaetz says the City has regularly consulted the public regarding what they want.

“We’ve just come through our 40 year Official Community Plan and everything that has been identified is in our budget.  I can’t think of a whole lot of things that we don’t have right now.”

One of the items in the financial plan is a new curling facility.  $6.5 million is budgeted for the project in 2018, and it was something Waddington pointed to during a budget discussion in council last week.  He says he has nothing against curling at all…it was simply the number that popped off the page, and he wondered why the city was spending that much on a facility used primarily by a private club.

In terms of spending on other projects, he says the average homeowner in Chilliwack spends $1500 less on taxes than other Fraser Valley municipalities, and if it meant getting more local projects it would be worth collecting more. He says you get the community you pay for, and while he’s not necessarily a fan of paying higher taxes, he doesn’t take pride being “at the bottom of the heap” when it comes to spending. Waddington says one of the reasons why higher property taxes is so unpopular is because many residents distrust how governments spend, and says there would need to be open dialogues to show people the money is being spent well.

Gaetz says she thinks people are happy to have lower taxes.

You can check out the budget HERE and comment online, OR you can come out in person to the public hearing next Tuesday night at 7 at city hall. Councilor Jason Lum appropriately pointed out last week that very few people tend to show up at these meetings, and taxpayers opinions on the budget are critical.