An ArmchairMayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WOULD YOU have paid more for faster snow removal this past winter?
Would you pay more next winter?
These are questions taxpayers need to ask themselves every time they complain about city services, which a good number have done with respect to the snow situation this season.
City councillors had a lengthy discussion about it at this week’s council meeting and will talk about it more at a workshop in the fall.
Complaints to City Hall about snow removal number in the hundreds, and the issue is easy to fix — just throw more money at it.
But where does that money come from? Coun. Denis Walsh suggested it could come from “efficiencies.” That’s always an easy thing for politicians and taxpayers to say but not nearly so easy to do.
Another option is to cut services somewhere else. Which services would you like to see cut in order to see the snowplow on your street more often? Bus service? Parks? Recreation programs? Road repairs?
And then there’s the tax option. Simply raise taxes by, say, a few hundred thousand dollars. Yet at a public budget-input session that same evening, people told council they want lower taxes.
The fall workshop will focus on possible shifting within the existing snow-clearing budget but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one. Any changes within what’s already spent aren’t likely to be felt at your house.
Urban dwellers aren’t alone, of course, in fretting about snow. It’s exactly the same in rural areas, where provincial contractors are hired to keep the roads passable. And who will ever forget that snafu on the Coquihalla? Could have been avoided with a few million more dollars.
So if you want something done about the snow, get ready to open your wallets. And don’t call for tax cuts in the next breath.