They’re using a simplistic measure that doesn’t tell the whole story.
That’s how Delta’s finance department summed up reports by the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, both of which painted less than flattering pictures of the city’s spending.
A report by Delta’s finance department, which was discussed by civic politicians last week, argued the two analysis used a simplistic population measure to rank municipalities in terms of spending over a 10-year period, not taking into account cost factors unique to the city and new services and programs that have been added.
The Fraser Institute report ranked Delta the fourth highest out of 17 Metro cities in spending, while the CFIB report ranked Delta 69th highest out of 152 B.C. municipalities in per-person municipal spending. The CFIB report found that between 2006 and 2016, municipal spending increased 43 per cent while B.C.’s population increased 12 per cent. It suggests that sustainable operating spending growth should be kept at or below the rate of inflation plus population growth, concluding that the province’s municipalities are spending at an unsustainable rate.
The Delta report defends how the city has been spending, including noting each community receives “a high level of service such as a transportation network of roads and sidewalks and amenities like community recreation facility, sports field and library.”
Other cost factors include public safety as well as service levels “that are valued and expected by our residents.”
The report explains how contract settlements are a factor and that utility costs increased above inflation rates. It also notes that since 2006, Delta has kept existing service levels and also provided many new and enhanced programs.
The report then points to Delta’s debt, which was $58 million 18 years ago but has been paid off this year.
Mayor Lois Jackson said other cities like Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond have been able to keep building high-rises and enjoyed big population growth, so per-person spending would naturally be lower.