City councillors butt heads on budget

Langley City council is going with a 2.71 per cent tax increase after several cost-cutting motions by Councillor Dave Hall failed to gain any traction with other civic leaders.

Again this year the budget debate during public meetings turned contentious between those on council.

Hall opened his budget statement by acknowledging resident Paul Albrecht: “the one and only person to show up at the [budget] open house.”

“I would have expected other people considering running for a council seat in the next election,” Hall went on to say.

Coun. Gayle Martin challenged Hall’s comments.

“We’re dealing with the bylaw 2931, not the upcoming election and who’s running and who shouldn’t run and who should be here and who shouldn’t be here,” she said.

Hall said his comments were introduction to his discussion of the budget bylaw. The cuts and reallocations concerned the Penzer Bike Park, mayor and council remuneration, the infrastructure levy, the floodplain, dog off leash areas, community gardens and the Douglas Park sports box.

“My amendments that I propose are not only an attempt to reduce taxes… but also a more effective delivery of some of the capital items,” he said.

He proposed 11 budget amendments and cuts. None was seconded by others on council so the cuts would not be discussed and council approved the budget as presented with the 2.71 per cent tax increase.

“Not everybody is 100 per cent happy with the budget,” Martin said.

She said council tries to “rule” by consensus.

“Democracy is not fighting until you get your own way,” Martin said.

She said the councillors have different priorities but must work together.

“I won’t put comments on Facebooks about how dysfunctional council and the mayor is. I wouldn’t do that,” commented Martin.

In response, Hall said the debate was supposed to be about the budget and the items in that plan.

“It is an attack on an individual’s right and opportunity to speak to their public through the media,” he said.

“I was not directing my comments at anybody,” Martin said.

Hall called on Acting Mayor Ted Schaffer to keep the discussion on topic.

“I’m asking both colleagues to keep their remarks to this bylaw,” Schaffer said.

“I won’t lower myself to the level of some councillors that use the media to do that,” Martin commented.

She noted that the public input does not go unheard .

“There’s several seniors sitting around this table,” she said about City council.

But costs rise and the City must factor that into the budget.

“It’s unfortunately a way of life,” Martin said.

She added that the public has told council not to cut services but to increase taxes.

“When we started with this budget we were at a five or six per per cent tax increase,” she noted.

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