Small business group concerned about increasing local government spending

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ BC Municipal Spending Watch reveals a worsening picture of local government spending.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ fourth annual BC Municipal Spending Watch reveals a new, improved ranking system, but a worsening picture of local government spending.

The latest report shows municipal operating spending, adjusted for inflation, has ballooned to nearly four times the rate of population growth in B.C.

While spending is tracked over a decade, from 2000-2009, this year’s report also shows the biggest operating spending increases have come in the most recent years. In 2009 the province’s municipal operating spending totaled $4.4 billion, up $339 million from the year before.

“We’re seeing local government spend more than ever, faster than ever,” says Shachi Kurl, CFIB Director of Provincial Affairs, B.C. and Yukon. “It’s just not sustainable over time.”

Other highlights:

• Funding transfers from other levels of government to municipalities have more than tripled in the last decade, rising 214 per cent between 2000-2009.

• Municipalities more than doubled the revenue they earned from sales of services — everything from parking fees to business licenses — over the same time period.

• Vacation and destination communities are some of B.C.’s freest spending offenders.

• In communities where population is shrinking, local governments are spending more, not the same or less.

• A family of four in Lytton might have saved $42,175 over 10 years, had that municipality held its operating spending to the rate of growth in population and inflation between 2000-2009.

“We’ve been measuring municipal operating spending annually for the last four years, and the situation is deteriorating,” says Kurl. “If politicians won’t take these issues seriously, it’s time for people in B.C. to take their fiscal futures into their own hands — and stop the steady flow of cash that’s draining from their wallets.”

In direct response to feedback from municipal politicians who felt it was unfair to emphasize rates of growth in spending, BC Municipal Spending Watch 2011 features a revised ranking system that gives equal weighting to the rate at which a municipality has been spending over the last decade, and the dollar amount every citizen in the community paid for those spending increases, in the past year.

No comox Valley communities were among those on the CFIB

Spending Watch list.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is a non-profit, non-partisan business association with 108,000 members across Canada, including 10,000 in British Columbia.

— Canadian Federation of Independent Business

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