Dear Mayor Brodie and councillors,
Like many Richmond residents, I object to your jaw-dropping property tax increase proposal for 2021.
At 5.68 per cent, this is the highest increase in the region for this year, and the highest in Richmond in a decade.
Your response has been silent on the people’s concern and fails to address the financial hardships the larger increase will precipitate.
Your rationale is based on a plan that predates COVID-19.
Many in Richmond are struggling to stay afloat. Those on limited income will be especially hard hit if your proposal happens.
Since COVID-19, many small businesses have closed and jobs have been lost.
Consequently, many buildings, civic or otherwise, are under-utilized.
When the pandemic is over, work-from-home and other off-site arrangements will likely stay in place.
City council should consider the “new normal,” and stop all non-core capital and related operational spending for now.
The Richmond RCMP has done a great job keeping our community safe. They deserve our applause and support.
Thirty-five new RCMP officers were added in 2019. Considering this, along with COVID-induced hardships, this is the wrong time for more hirings.
At last month’s meeting where the tax hike was approved, Mayor Brodie asked rhetorically what was more fundamental than having police officers.
Here’s a more pertinent question: What is more fundamental than having adequate food on the table or heating in our homes?
Why force non-privileged families and those with limited income to sacrifice basic necessities to pay for the inordinate tax hike?
In 2019, we sustained a 16 per cent pay raise for the mayor and councillors.
The city should not compound the challenges while we are going through this tough time.
The senior city staff have recommended a more modest increase of 2.9 per cent, apparently including a provision for dike improvements.
City council should heed the staff’s sensible advice.
Editor’s note: In 2019, the city approved a three-year plan to hire 51 RCMP officer. It hired 35 that year, none in 2020 and plans to hire 16 in 2021.
The 2019 council pay increase was in response to a federal tax exemption that was eliminated for a portion of their salary.