EDITORIAL: City must think beyond big industry

Could this be the year that the City of Port Alberni gives more than lip service to the longterm planning of its five-year financial plan?.

Could this be the year that the City of Port Alberni gives more than lip service to the long-range planning portion of its five-year financial plan?.

Chief administrative officer Tim Pley delivered a brutally honest presentation at Monday’s council meeting, warning councillors they must get serious about long-range planning if the city is to have any hope of catching up with its infrastructure deficit.

For the past number of years Port Alberni, as with every municipality in British Columbia, has been required to submit a five-year financial plan. The city has complied every year, but hasn’t placed much emphasis on years two through five.

As an example: last year’s budget forecast a 17 per cent increase for 2017, which is the city’s starting point as they kick off the new budget process. Pley said no one thought they would really be raising taxes by that much.

He has put forth a suggestion for scaling back city services while keeping municipal tax increases at a rate slightly above inflation. He strongly cautioned councillors not to rely on raising industrial taxes to fix infrastructure problems.

It’s good advice: both Catalyst Paper and Western Forest Products—the largest companies in that bracket—have downsized and who knows what their futures hold?

We won’t know if councillors truly heard what Pley was saying until the end of the budget process next spring.

— ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS