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Race opposes budget bylaw for Squamish

Council pay battle leads to community donation

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Councillor Doug Race opposes the entire 2012 budget due to his strong objection to a 30 per cent raise for the members of District of Squamish Council.

The members of Squamish Council are getting a 30 per cent raise.

But the decision is not popular with all councillors. Doug Race has taken a strong stance against the raises.

After yet another vote and discussion Tuesday, April 17 on the controversial pay increase the raises are confirmed after the members of council gave first three readings to the five-year financial plan and a tax rate bylaws for 2012.

Councillor Race asked District of Squamish (DOS) staff to hold back his raise, but he said he was told that couldn't be done so he wrote out a cheque to the DOS for $6,000 on Tuesday and handed it over as a donation to the community.

Race continued his remuneration protest by voting against the budget, a move Councillor Patty Heintzman described as irresponsible.

Race said he voted against the financial plan despite generally supporting most of it, but he noted that he couldn't justify the pay raise at a time when finances are tight.

"I agree with Councillor Heintzman," said Councillor Susan Chapelle when she shared her thoughts on the budget.

In previous discussions about the pay issue Mayor Rob Kirkham and Councillor Ron Sander have both voted against the increase in pay for the elected officials.

Sander said he shares Race's view on remuneration, but valued the process used to create the budget and the final document.

"The good outweighs the one part I whole-heartedly oppose," said Sander.

Kirkham described the budget as a great product that will work very well for the DOS in 2012.

The DOS is prepared to spend $19.6 million in 2012, an increase of over nine per cent from last year.

For the average homeowner in Squamish living in a home valued at $374,000 a tax increase of 7.5 per cent is expected. The budget statistics indicate that homes valued at the average value will pay about $164 more in municipal taxes this year compared to last year.

Infrastructure challenges met head on

Squamish Council members went on a spending spree of sorts at this week's regular meeting. By the end of the meeting, the council members approved almost $400,000 in contracts to consulting firms eager to help the community solve its aging infrastructure issues.

Contracts were approved with five different firms on five different projects ranging from sewer upgrades to water system improvements and bridge repairs.

Jenni Chancey, the District of Squamish (DOS) Municipal Infrastructure Engineer, said more of these approvals are still to come before Squamish council.

In the process of voting on the staff recommendations to award the contracts Councillor Heintzman expressed concerns with the evaluation process. She pointed out that some of the evaluation scores were very close while the dollar amounts in the quotes were significantly different in a few cases.

Councillor Sander said he shares the concern.

Members of council agreed the project should get a second review from staff then reconsidered by council in the future.

One of the approved contracts was for work on the Cheakamus Bridge. Chancey described the bridge as being "in dire need of resurfacing and repair."

Former Councillor Raj Kahlon lobbied unsuccessfully through his two terms on council, which ended in 2005, to have the bridge repaired.

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