It's getting really hard to tell if the Regina Chamber of Commerce actually supports free markets and smaller government. Leave it to the Chamber to give city council a blank cheque for a Regina tax increase when the city revenues are soaring.
John Hopkins, the chief executive officer of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce, said it's too early to say if it is realistic for the city to hold the line with no property-tax increase this year.
If city council does propose an increase, the chamber will want to consider exactly how big an increase is being proposed and what the reasons are for that increase, Hopkins said.
The city does face pressures, related to inflation and pay raises for civic workers, Hopkins said. He noted the growth experienced in the city -- while positive -- can result in some increased costs.
But Hopkins said he hopes any property-tax increases approved will be modest and would for the most part simply be designed to keep up with increased costs associated with inflation.
Provincial revenue sharing grants are as high as they've been since the 70's, Ottawa forks over millions in gas tax money and picks up the tab for most major infrastructure projects yet the chamber still believes a tax increase beyond inflation may be necessary.
Let's review some of the chambers' recent policy statements.
1) While the chamber explicitly says on the web site they don't think the government should run businesses, if the government happens to be aboriginal it's OK.
2) They think it's great the government imposed another statutory holiday on chamber members even though Saskatchewan workers are already entitled to more vacation days than most (if not all) other provinces.
3) They support the discriminatory practice of tax preference for post-secondary graduates announced in the provincial budget.
4) The chamber says a Regina property tax increase is alright, so long as the reasons are clearly explained to them.
I have a lot of respect for the chamber and its members and it does a lot of great things for the community. However, it's hard to understand some of the positions they have taken over the years.
At a time when the size and influence of government is on the rise, taxpayers need all the help they can get.