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A Divine Comedy

Tax Rate and Five-Year Plan Finalized

Lions Bay Village Council has passed the 2024 budget in a Special Meeting that lasted just under 12 minutes – a full week ahead of the May 15 deadline.

After a proposed amendment to add a closed element to the May 7 meeting was shot down, public participation began when long-time resident Rose Dudley stepped to the podium and voiced her concerns about Council's rate of spending.

Dudley pointed out that the average cost of past audits was in the $40-45,000 range, comparing it with this year's audit, "which is already at $120,000 or more." She added that with the audit more than a year late, Council is now seeking a new auditor.

Dudley also addressed her concern over "the tripling of legal fees" and said that Council's increased used of legal consultations represents a worrying trend. She concluded by asking Council if the $70,000 paid out for architecture fees would be returned to Village coffers, and reminded the Mayor of his promise of fiscal responsibility.

No response was offered to Dudley's remarks.

Council then went on to enact the tax rate and five-year-plan bylaws (collectively, the annual budget) that were given third reading on April 29, however, the passage of the budget was no rubber stamp.

Before the vote, Councillor Marcus Reuter made reference to Dudley's remarks and said this budget represented a "furtherance of the concealment of our sins from the public."

When reminded by Mayor Ken Berry that the budget is the work of staff, and to keep his remarks respectful, Reuter responded that the document was as much Council's work as staff's, and that: "Our responsibility is to do right by residents, and I'm saying that we are not."

"We are responsible for this budget and we need to be accountable for it. I view this as our descent into Dante's eighth circle of hell." (A reference to the 14th century epic poem The Divine Comedy, in which the eighth circle was the section of hell reserved as a punishment of those who commit fraud.)

The five-year plan and the tax rate bylaw each passed three to two with Reuter and Councillor Neville Abbott voting against.

The next meeting of council is scheduled for May 21 at 6 p.m.

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Continued gratitude to K.C. for her efforts to keep us informed about matters at the core of our community. Thanks also to Rose Dudley for “showing up” and vocalizing the concerns many of us have about the way business is being conducted around the council table.

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