KAMLOOPS — As Kamloops grows, more staff is needed to maintain city services, and upgrades are required to keep city infrastructure in top shape. All of this requires taxpayer dollars.
Tax increases and infrastructure are two hot button issues in the municipal election and they're the topics of the fifth installment of our mayors series.
When infrastructure breaks down taxpayers can expect to foot some of the bill. Road repairs, and water and sewer upgrades are common projects in Kamloops, and unavoidable costs in keeping the city running smoothly.
"I think it's prudent for us as council to make sure that we're doing the kind of maintenance that will save those assets and allow us to use them for a longer life-span," said mayoral candidate Ken Christian.
Christian says there are several infrastructure projects he would like to champion if re-elected.
"Certainly active transportation networks, the connecting of our neighbourhoods by trails, so the Peterson Creek Multi-use Pathway is going to be open October 26, actually, that is an exciting piece, connecting the TRU precinct to downtown Kamloops. I believe that the airport corridor needs upgrading."
The rehabilitation of West Victoria Street that will replace aging sewer and water lines is scheduled to begin next March.
It's a two-year, $13 million project that will require some taxpayer dollars. But, infrastructure is just one of numerous pressures on the city's budget that impact taxes.
"Just as your car insurance is going up and my car insurance is going up so is the insurance for the entire city's fleet," Christian said. "Just as we talked about policing and the issues related to wage increases for police officers, for firefighters, for civic workers."
Christian says he's not committing to any particular amount when it comes to tax increases for the city, but does say there are some things that can be done to keep the numbers low.
"The cost of staff is a big driver in terms of our civic budget," he said. "So, we need to be very prudent in terms of adding additional staff to the city's workforce.
"But, we also need to recognize that survey after survey when we ask people what they value it comes out with things like our uniformed services, garbage collection, our recreational services. Those are the kinds of things that people really want in the community, so we have to be careful about making too sudden changes to those kinds of elements."
We reached out to Christian's challenger, William Turnbull, to discuss his viewpoint on a range of election issues. He declined to participate in this series.
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