Squamish council settles on 10 per cent budget increase 

Public participation in budget process encouraged with little uptake

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In an attempt to encourage public participation in the budgeting process in Squamish, community leaders want residents to use social media to get in on the 2013 budget discussion. Budget meetings were streamed live through the District of Squamish website. The live streams have also been archived for viewing later. Budget documents were published to the district's website and residents were encouraged to send budget feedback in any one of a number of ways. A feedback form is available at the district's website, Twitter users can comment by sending messages to @Squamishtown and the district's Facebook page is being monitored for budget comments.

Up to 20 minutes at the end of budget workshops was being dedicated to public questions and comments.

But nobody took advantage of any of those communication channels to comment on the March 26 meeting when council members settled on a plan to increase municipal spending by 10 per cent in 2013.

Mayor Rob Kirkham said at the end of the meeting that it was tough slugging through the budget process. He called the proposed budget a plan that recognizes where the community is at.

"Ten per cent is not something to get excited about," said Kirkham of the budget increase and municipal tax bill increases that are expected to follow.

The increase is needed mainly to address the infrastructure deficit faced by the community and to cover increasing policing costs.

The next budget meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 3 with April 8 set as the date council is expected to give the five-year plan final approval.

RCMP share crime stats

RCMP Inspector Neil Cross met with members of Squamish council on Tuesday to present the 2012 crime stats.

The inspector told Squamish's elected officials that robbery charges were down by 75 per cent last year while the number of sexual assault cases ballooned from four in 2011 to 18 last year.

The sexual assault statistics were skewed, said Cross, by one historic case involving multiple victims. He added that if the historic case was removed from the stats the number for the year is consistent with the five-year average.

According to Cross, the number of crashes on Highway 99 in the Squamish area has reached a five-year low. Non-fatal injury incidents and crashes with damage over $1,000 have dropped significantly since 2007, which was the worst year in recent memory.



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