Spendthrift ways land city near bottom, says report

The fiscal prudence of the people of the Boundary does not extend to its municipal governments.

The fiscal prudence of the people of the Boundary does not extend to its municipal governments.In a recent report released by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the cities of Grand Forks and Greenwood were shown to be more free spending than its neigbours in the Thompson Okanagan region—and did not fare much better against the entire breadth of the municipalities across the province.In the BC Municipal Spending Watch 2013, Grand Forks was in the bottom 20 per cent of fiscally responsible communities in the province, ranking 33 out of 153 (the lower the number being a worse ranking) communities.The city dropped down from their 52nd ranking from last year as its municipal spending per capita from 2010-2011 rose by nine per cent.As with past years, the lower the number, the worse off a municipality is in achieving sustainable operating spendingGrand Forks operating spending per capita in 2011 was $2,176, with real operating spending per capita growth rising from 2000-2011 by 36 per cent.That contrasts sharply with some of the city’s Kootenay Rockies cousins like Rossland, where operating spending in the same time period rose by one per cent. The city spends $1,361 per capita, and municipal spending per capita dropped by one per cent from 2010-2011.The report measures how much the city spends, in relation to the rate of inflation and its population growth.Grand Forks was the second worst community in the Thompson Okanagan region, ahead of Summerland that was ranked 20th, having a 72 per cent increase in operating spending per capita growth from 2000-2011.Greenwood has had a 32 per cent rise in real operating spending per capita growth from 2000-2011, and shells out $1,733 in operating spending per capita. The city’s municipal spending increased by eight per cent from 2010 to 2011, dropping the nation’s smallest city to a rank of 54th, down from 78th last year.Midway was a model of responsibility and consistency, raising its real operating spending per capita (2000-2011) by only four per cent, spending $1,503 per capita and actually decreasing its municipal spending per capita (2010-2011) by six per cent.The community ranked 118th, bettering its rank of 100 from last year.Grand Forks does have some Kootenay company at the bottom of the spectrum, with nine Kootenay communities ranked below the city. Nelson ranked 30th ($2,6621 per capita, with a six per cent rise in 2010-2011 spending), while Golden has increased its real operating spending per capita (2010-2011) by 107 per cent.Cranbrook was 42nd, Creston 95th, Salmo 139th and Kaslo—the best in the province—was ranked 153rd. The village has decreased its spending from 2000-2011 by nine per cent, 11 per cent from 2010-2011. It spends $1,017 per capita.Trail dropped even lower in the rankings, from 65th to 61st, even though it did not increase municipal spending. Warfield ranked 119th, Montrose 124th, Fruitvale 145th and Castlegar 117.Penticton was 41st, Kelowna 51st, Osoyoos 65th, Oliver 69th and Princeton 212st.Regional districts were not included in the report.Follow the moneyThe Municipal Spending Watch rankings are based on an equal weighting of growth in inflation-adjusted operating spending per capita (2000-2011) and the 2011 operating spending per capita.Policing costs, while technically a component of municipal operating spending, are largely beyond the political control of municipal governments and are instead determined by negotiations at the provincial level. For this reason, policing costs from overall operating spending have been excluded. Capital expenditures such as infrastructure building were excluded in calculation as well. The report only looked at local government operating spending.

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