Councillor fears consequences of current spending spree

In a symbolic gesture, Whitehorse city councillor Ranj Pillai voted against the city's operation and maintenance budget at Monday's council meeting. He believes the city's "buy now, pay later," scheme will cost residents more money in the future.

In a symbolic gesture, Whitehorse city councillor Ranj Pillai voted against the city’s operation and maintenance budget at Monday’s council meeting.

He believes the city’s “buy now, pay later,” scheme will cost residents more money in the future.

Pillai criticized the administration’s decision to take federal money for infrastructure projects that the city is unable to pay upkeep and maintenance costs for.

“We take the money at the time without thinking of what the aftereffects are,” he said.

Those projects eventually lead to “drastic increases” to the operation and maintenance budget and city taxes, he said.

In January, the city posted a tax increase of four per cent, a majority of which will cover increases to staff salaries.

The tax increase for 2010, high as it is, is still not enough to adequately cover general upkeep of city roads and buildings, said Pillai.

He took a shot at past city councillors’ decision to not increase taxes between 1995 and 2001.

“There was no real vision in the ‘90s for repairing or paying for new infrastructure,” he said.

“Now we’re paying the price.”

Pillai would like to see city taxes projected on a three-year basis.

“I don’t believe we’ve done the proper forecasting – where will these new revenues come from?” he said.

“If we don’t look at where our revenues are coming from, we’re not planning properly … We’ll be blindfolding ourselves and hoping for the best.”

He voted against the budget, “as a sign of trust,” he said.

Councillor Doug Graham abstained from voting against the operation and maintenance budget. (Vivian Belik)

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