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Coquitlam City politics--The embarassment continues--
  Jun 22, 2009

A ROBBINS poll of 215 ‘residential homeowners’ June 17-21, 2009. This poll features a margin of error of 6%, 8 times out of 10. ‘In kind’ research was provided by Jim Van Rassel (604) 328-5398.

Question #1
In your opinion does the level and quality of municipal services in the City of Coquitlam merit an increase in your taxes of 7.5%?
Yes    22 %
No    61 %
Question #2
Surrey mayor Dianne Watts as well as other municipal and city leaders across the country are calling for a “Buy Canada” economic strategy to counter perceived protectionism policies from the United States “Buy America” economic strategy. Elected officials in Coquitlam all reside in the city. With this information in mind, in your opinion should Coquitlam city administrators earning from $100,000 to $200,000 per year be compelled by city Charter to reside in the Coquitlam and Tri-City area?
Yes    58 %
No    25 %
Question #3
Zero based budgeting is a method of budgeting which does not presume to factor in any of the budget costs from previous years, and instead focuses on most efficient use of tax dollars each year---or every couple of years. In your opinion should the city of Coquitlam be compelled by law to implement zero based budgeting PRIOR to raising any new taxes?
Yes    78 %
No    18 %
Commentary
Observations
This ROBBINS municipal poll reflects respondents who are “residential homeowners”. These include detached homes, townhouses, condominiums, and apartments.
(79%) of ‘Decided’ “residential homeowners” in the city of Coquitlam are of the opinion that “the current level and quality of municipal service in Coquitlam -DOES NOT- merit an increase in taxes of 7.5%.
(71%) of ‘Decided’ “residential homeowners” in the city of Coquitlam are of the opinion that city administrators should reside in the areas where they earn their living from taxpayers.
(81%) of ‘Decided’ “residential homeowners” in the city of Coquitlam are of the opinion that the City of Coquitlam should institute a city charter—“compelled by law” that demands the application of zero based budgeting accounting methodology prior to raising new taxes.
Commentary:
ROBBINS continues to expose the gaping holes in proper democratic systems throughout our British Columbia political ‘crucible’. The city of Coquitlam is the latest to be embarrassed by decisions which city administrators and leaders are fully aware are obtained through ‘slippery’ political techniques and guile.
Residential homeowners reject outright new taxes. To this end, at a recent public forum in Coquitlam—in an anecdotal survey of attendees, zero out of fifty persons (average age estimated at 60+) supported the 7.5% tax increase imposed on homeowners. In this ROBBINS poll, barely one in five support it. For the second year—a foreign polling firm was paid to mitigate this mess, by asking a sample of ‘all’ citizens a question as to whether or not taxes should be increased or services cut. What kind of question is this? How about an increase in services and no new taxes or the same services and no new taxes? Also, other than through the indirect application of rental hikes to ameliorate tax increases, why would renters or those citizens not (or less) impacted by tax hikes want lower services—when essentially they ‘free ride’ off the tax hikes. This polling affirmation from last year and this year to the tune of over $50,000.00 cost is in our opinion an exercise in political flim flam of the highest order.
Elected officials and city administrators throughout the province meet and have communication through the UBCM. They know what the other cities and municipalities are up to. Making an announcement to “Buy Canada” may be a commendable idea---but how could you possibly implement such a thing when those in city management—don’t even grasp the concept of living where they work? City administrators in Coquitlam are living as far away as Richmond and Delta (40k) where property values and rents are similar to those in Coquitlam and the general Tri-City area. The absolute poverty of political intellectualism in this city and in this province---certainly gives Iran hope.
The irony about our zero based budgeting question is that many homeowners are of the opinion that this is what the city does as regular practice. Absolutely not! New taxes are piled on old accounts discretionary or otherwise without any proper accounting of those expenditures from previous years which may no longer be required. The village idiot could easily see that this cumulative approach to raising revenues and condoning all expenditures as fixed will in the short, mid and long run increase, while the people’s ability to pay will not be commensurate. A recipe for good times for those on the inside while consumers continue to get the shaft and virtually no accountability.
For our readers across Canada and the United States---it is important to realize that the city of Coquitlam (pop 140,000) and the province of British Columbia (4 million), has little or no transparency in its budgeting process, and citizens are left relying on general news which for the most part, acts as a propaganda agent for these governments. (Ask yourself—what country am I reading about?)
In Coquitlam there are tens of millions of dollars paid out to consultants and others—the same accountants, managers, and pollsters are paid huge funds every year to affirm the veracity of these measures. The people are supposed to trust this?
This ROBBINS polls suggests we need to re-think the entire democratic approach to governance at the city level—and elsewhere in the province. As it exists it is shamefully inadequate.

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