Editorial: Coffee allowance
Salt Spring voters are being asked to give their blessing to creation of a new “Community Safety Service” through the Capital Regional District.
If approved, it will result in a tax increase in 2020 — say $5 per year to start for the average assessed residential property — and will allow up to double that amount in future years. The amount — $0.016 per $1,000 of assessed property value — is so minor it has been likened to “a cup of coffee per month” at its maximum.
When added to the other considerable flagons of tax java Salt Springers are being hit with in 2020, we will either be suffering from caffeine withdrawal or the over-caffeinated jitters next year.
We know that government bodies exist to provide services to residents and that property taxes are a reliable way to fund those services. But the proposed Salt Spring Island Community Safety Service (Bylaw 4235) seems like a service that’s not really needed regardless of its minor cost. It was proposed as a way to address a short-term problem of vandalism last year that a CRD meeting heard was caused by one disturbed individual, and the discomfort created by groups of homeless people hanging out in Ganges. Unless the service will fund a full-time street worker, or another bylaw enforcement officer or police officer, it’s unlikely to make a visible difference in the community. Holding meetings to discuss safety concerns, or forming a volunteer Citizens on Patrol group, which the island has had in the past, can surely be done without creating an additional finger of CRD bureaucracy and cost to taxpayers. The whole scheme is so vague it seems inevitable that the money will be frittered away without having any impact.
Under what is called an alternative approval process, if at least 10 per cent of registered Salt Spring voters — so 910 of them — don’t oppose the plan by Dec. 9, the new tax is a done deal. The process to register opposition is not difficult. “Elector response forms” are available online or at the Ganges and Victoria CRD offices. Details are in an ad in this week’s paper.
So many huge community issues will demand our property tax resources in the coming years. Let’s not deplete the coffee allowance on something as peripheral as “community safety.” Let’s also show that we do have some control over and interest in how that allowance is spent.