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Tuesday, December 11, 2012 Roofers buy five tons of food for the food bank during their annual shopping spree. Page A7 • LOCAL NEWS, SPORTS, WEATHER AND ENTERTAINMENT • • 604-463-2281 • 40 PAGES Pitt Meadows Santa Claus spreads Christmas cheer The public can vote at the family recreation centre until Dec. 12 on the best decorated tree. by Maria Rantanen Every year, A Pitt Meadows Christmas grows, said the City’s communications manager Lorna Jones, and this year there were more than 2,000 people in attendance at Friday evening’s event. “It has been steadily increasing since the first year,” Jones said of the event that is co-organized by the City and the Pitt Meadows Community Foundation. With a new sequoia tree on the hill of Spirit Square covered in Christmas lights, Pitt Meadows residents were able to take in entertainment, sip on hot chocolate, and have hotdogs courtesy of the Pitt Meadows Lions Club. But the evening’s highlight was when Santa Claus and his better half Mrs. Claus arrived in a lit carriage, and children were allowed to give last-minute gift ideas to the jolly old elf and have their pictures taken with the couple. “Santa was warmly welcomed in Pitt Meadows,” Jones said, despite a scare earlier in the day when the wind seemed to be picking up. In the family recreation centre, groups had decorated Christmas trees – the public is invited to vote on the best decorations until Dec. 12. More Photos Online Children were out to greet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus when they arrived in Pitt Meadows on Friday. Peggy Peat’s School of Dance (inset) provided entertainment at A Pitt Meadows Christmas. Maria Rantanen/TIMES Finances Budget pared down at request of Maple Ridge council District departments were able to find savings to bring down proposed tax increases. by Maria Rantanen Maple Ridge’s manager of finance is confident a scaled-back budget will meet the District’s financial needs without compromising services. District staff was able to find savings within their budgets bringing the proposed tax increase down from more than five per cent to just 3.91 per cent. When the financial department presented its first budget numbers in the spring with an increase of 5.13 per cent (not including water, sewer, and recycling fees), the direction from council was to find more savings, said Paul Gill, manager of corporate and financial services with the District of Maple Ridge. There would be ways of cutting the budget more, Gill said, but they could end up with a “pay me now or pay me much more later” scenario. District staff recommended against deferring infrastructure renewal and maintenance, using up savings to cushion a tax increase, using “unstable revenue sources,” for example, gaming grants, deferring capital projects, and amending financial plan assumptions. “All you do is defer the problem instead of dealing with it,” Gill said of using these methods to bring down municipal taxes short term. In order to scale back the proposed increase, certain budget areas were cut back. The parks and recreation increase was scaled down from a half a per cent to 0 .125 per cent. The infrastructure budget line item was also scaled back from a one per cent increase to a half per cent increase. Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin and the District’s director of finance Paul Gill were poring over budget details at municipal hall on Friday. continued on page A7... Maria Rantanen/TIMES Don’t miss important information from the City of Pitt Meadows on page A13 The Keg is open early at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday – Sunday. Online, all the time... Until December 23 Another reason to love this time of year. Maple Ridge (604) 465.8911 i PAD 3 WITH EVERY VEHICLE PURCHASED!! rd In-stock cars only some exemptions may apply

Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times December 11 2012

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