EDITORIAL: Budget planning creates challenge

Vernon politicians are in the midst of a difficult and unenviable task.

Vernon politicians are in the midst of a difficult and unenviable task.

They are faced with a scenario  where no one likes paying taxes, but there is a steady demand for a wide range of services.

Staff has presented council with a number of fee hikes and service cuts that amount to about $2 million. They are hoping to see about $1.1 million of those enacted.

“Our reserves are too low and we’re not in a position to deal with circumstances we can’t plan for,” said Will Pearce, chief administrative officer, of addressing aging infrastructure.

But as much as most residents understand the need to plan for the future, some will be reluctant to give up programs they have come to expect such as leaf pickup or spring yard waste chipping.

“These are services people really value,” said Coun. Patrick Nicol.

And while that is true, just chopping those two initiatives will save $117,000 a year. It should also be pointed out that other communities don’t have such programs.

But council has to be careful not to swing the budget axe just for the sake of cutting.

Eliminating summer road sweeping may save $80,000 but it could just lead to more work, expanded costs and increased air pollution at other times of the year.

The city could end its $60,000 contract with the Social Planning Council but what would that mean for critical social issues such as homelessness, affordable housing and crime reduction?

Preparing the 2013 budget is a balance between fiscal responsibility and public wants and needs.

The final outcome isn’t determined yet, but one thing is guaranteed — council will upset some residents no matter what happens.