It's budget time again at City Hall and once again, the pressure is mounting on politicians to "hold the line" on taxes. Some budget watchers even clamour for cuts, suggesting our City work force is too large and too expensive.
Shrink the workforce, these hardliners suggest, and reduce taxes. It's something easily said, but not easily done. Nor should it be.
Every job cut represents a blow to someone's family. We wring our hands at the thought of Domtar workers being sent to the street, fretting the loss of high-paying jobs and what it means to our economy.
Why is it different if workers are employed by local government? Their wages, too, support other businesses and cuts at City Hall will also ripple across the business landscape, to be felt by others.
Perhaps some people think that the work of municipal workers is not as important, that they don't deserve the wages they are paid. If so, they are mistaken; there is nothing upon which to base such an opinion.
To the contrary, there is little work more important to a community than the job of maintaining the vast array of services we depend on daily. Life is easy in Kamloops because we can depend on water and sewer and garbage systems. Life is fun in Kamloops because City workers keep our pools, parks and rinks in excellent shape.
Kamloops residents are well-served by their municipal force. We have great services here. Our infrastructure is well-maintained and delivers residents a tremendously high quality of life.
Not that taxpayers should open their wallets and give politicians and managers free access. It's appropriate to expect transparency and accountability from those who decide how the money is spent.
On that front, too, we are well served, as the City's budget process is incredibly open and transparent, and getting more so every year.
It's evident City planners take the budget process seriously and work to deliver top value for the money collected and spent. We have little to complain about in Kamloops.
Yes, there are occasional, largely unavoidable cost overruns on some projects and snowplows don't clean windrows from driveways, but those are small potatoes, aren't they? Kamloops taxpayers pay more than citizens in some communities but less than others.
Some might tire of what's been called the annual "budget dance" but the fact is, it is a process that works to ensure we continue to receive top-notch service that is also affordable.
We can't ask for more.
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