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Deadline for paying one's property taxes

Blog by Kasha Riddle | July 5th, 2006

"A nation of sheep begets a government of wolves." - Edward R. Murrow

Today being the deadline for paying one's property taxes to the DWV, it seems as good day as any for a last ITAC broadcast e-mail before the summer doldrums take hold.

In our last e-mail, we advised that, as of 2005, the DWV had on its payroll some 139 employees who were each being paid in excess of $75,000. per annum [plus a generous benefit package worth close to 35% of salary]. This is up from only 41 such employees in the year 2000. In other words, a 339% increase in just five years. Also, the aggregate cost of these employees' salaries has gone from approximately $3.8 million in 2000 to over $12.7 million in 2005. This is an increase of 344% over five years. Further, while these employees constitute 14% of the District's 1,001 employees, they consume fully 30% of the total salaries and wages being paid. The year previous, this group took home 24% of the total. The trend is clear: management and supervisory personnel are being compensated disproportionate to front-line workers.

In his column in last Friday's xml:namespace prefix =" st1" ns =" "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags"" />NSNews, Trevor Lautens quotes our mayor as being "satisfied" with this situation. She evidently goes on to claim that, "We're going to have to raise awareness in the community about a genuine labour shortage - how to attract people to the public sector."

With respect, I say that's utter nonsense. West Vancouver is essentially a bedroom community, of some 44,000 residents. We do not need 1,001 employees [one per 44 residents] on the municipal payroll and we most certainly do not require 139 supervisory or managerial personnel, each being paid a salary well in excess of today's average BC income of $58,000. per annum.

I agree with our mayor when she states that "community awareness" needs to be raised but for entirely different reasons. In his superb Tax Me, I'm Canadian, published in 2002, Mark Milke observes, "Democracy requires vigilance and to ignore that duty is to show the greatest possible contempt for democracy itself." That statement of principle underpins the activities of ITAC. We believe that an informed public will become an engaged public, with beneficial results.

We are a nation that is grotesquely over-taxed. According to yesterday's National Post, even the federal finance department concedes that Canada's personal and corporate income tax burden is the highest among the G7 leading industrialized countries. And property tax is paid, in almost every instance, from income that has already been subjected to excessive taxation. Plus, property tax bears no relationship whatsoever to one's ability to pay. It's past time to say, "Enough is enough!" We must send a message, loud and clear, to DWV council instructing them to pare the municipal bureaucracy and begin to get our property taxes heading downwards.

We live in a country that purports to be self-governing. Accordingly, our collective fate rests upon the extent and caliber of citizen participation in the processes of their own government. Nowhere is that more evident than in local government. In recent times, however, growing numbers of Canadians are becoming disengaged from their civic duty. This is a recipe for bureaucratic absolutism and, ultimately, for some form of totalitarianism.

A renowned US jurist, Louis Brandeis, once opined, "The greatest single threat to freedom and democracy is an inert people." Exactly so. Come September, the seven members of ITAC intend to continue our campaign to encourage the introduction of operational efficiencies to the DWV government, with a concomitant reduction in property taxes respecting its 2007 and subsequent budgets. I hope and trust you will be there to support our efforts. Please forward this e-mail to those of your family, friends and acquaintances resident in West Vancouver, with the request that they do likewise.

David O. Marley

Tel. 604-926-8994 / Fax 604-926-8950