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Amalgamating Tri-Cities would save taxpayers money

The Editor, Re. " Mayors serve up laughs at BBQ" (The Tri-City News, July 11).

The Editor,

Re. "Mayors serve up laughs at BBQ" (The Tri-City News, July 11).

It looks like laughs were all the local mayors served up as I couldn't find one little gem in your entire reporting of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce's annual love-in, better known as the mayors' barbecue.

And when it comes to disappointments, at least from what I read in your article, Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore's excuses for not at least considering the possibility of amalgamation never fails to lead the way. While he would like "to see someone who doesn't come up and say, 'Why don't you do this?' but instead say, 'Do this because,'" I would like to see him not throw out meaningless statistics to serve his position of wishing to maintain the status quo despite unnecessary added taxes to the residents of the Tri-Cities.

Last year it was the failure - was it really? - of some municipalities in the Ottawa area amalgamating; this year, it was "the last 15 U.S. cities that amalgamated where their property taxes soared by more than 50% versus municipalities that had stayed unchanged." Maybe it was because these 15 cities were already bankrupt or were managed by mayors like Mr. Moore.

So because he likes statistics - at least those that favour his position - let's do a very simple statistical comparison with the city of Surrey: With a population of approximately 484,000, Surrey's major operating expense in 2011 was employee salaries and benefits of $186 Million, or $385 per year per resident.

Now, let's total the populations and the salary and benefit costs for 2011 of the three individually run communities forming the Tri-Cities: Population is 218,000 with total salary and benefit costs $128 million, or $590 per resident of Coquitlam, PoCo and Port Moody.

So let's say that through amalgamation and reduction in staffing - no longer three fire chiefs, three chief administrative officers, three chief financial officers, etc. - we were able to bring our per-resident salary and benefit cost down by $200 from $590 to $385, like Surrey's. We might be able to save our new amalgamated city at least $40 million a year without even considering the redundancy of each having its own city hall, its own series of fire stations or its own recreation facilities.

So Mayor Moore, I'm not saying to you "why don't you do this?" I'm saying work on consolidating one department between the three cities and once you have this running smoothly and saving lots of dollars, do another department with a different city taking the lead role and the others paying for the service each time.

You just might be on to something that could save your taxpayers millions of dollars.

Murray Clare, Coquitlam