This week the council opened up discussion of the 2012 Annual Report of the Corporation, recently published and made available to us either online or by requesting same at the hall. Full of great photos and self-congratulatory messages, it runs to 112 pages. Last year's full colour printed report, appeared this year as a black and white photocopy. A best seller - not likely. An insight into where your taxes go - absolutely.
Our good mayor appears six times in the first eight pages, and another eight times elsewhere. The first 60 pages deal with commentary of the programs and accomplishments of each department of the Corporation. The balance deals with the financial aspects of the dollars to make the corporation run. If you wanted to get a close look at Delta - to live, or work here, this would be a good reference point.
My look at the report focused on the financial aspects - the result of the taxes raised and spent. First, it must be said: Delta is in terrific financial health! Credit goes to council who oversees this and to the senior staff who implement the policies and produce the results.
When I think about Stockton, California - a city of 300,000 who has just filed bankruptcy, and of countries in Europe deeply mired in recession, unemployment and under water fiscally, I am proud to live here.
But might we have over-reaction fiscally?
The municipal summary shows the tax draw was $105 million last year and is to be $109 million this year, for an increase of four per cent. The allocation was roughly $100 million for operating and $5.5 million for capital. When looking at the statement prepared by auditors, we find the Corporation took in $211 million and spent $174 million for a surplus of $37 million.
This surplus was more than the budget $11 million. So our first question is: Why did taxes increase by four per cent when the surplus is running at over 30 per cent of taxes? When we factor in the 'fixed and other assets', the increase shrinks to $20 million.
Delta has been busy building up "hard assets". Some $28 million was spent in capital activities and $21 million in investments and reserves, along with $7.3 million to retire long term debt.
Value of these assets, net of amortization, was $689 million, and adding in some other items, the Corporation (you and I) have accumulated a surplus (net worth) of $784 million - about $800 for every person living in Delta.
Previously reported was that in 2003 council ceased to pay for capital works over their life. Instead they (we) decided to pay 'cash up front'.
This is like double taxation but the good news is that the long-term debt has now been reduced to less than $10 million.
It will disappear in a decade. Can we expect council to reduce taxes as the funds needed to repay their debts are retired?
Check the colour of the moon tonight.
Space does not allow for more details.
So, based on the above, was a four per cent 'tax draw' increase warranted?
With an annual surplus of over 30 per cent on the taxes taken, are we being over taxed? Is it time for a tax decrease?