2018 Budget proposes 4.5 per cent tax increase

Revelstoke Review takes a look at proposed 2018 budget

The City of Revelstoke is embracing a new way of looking at the municipality’s budget.

The City is now using a 15-year budget, which the finance officer says will help better inform City Councils as they make decisions about the future.

You can view the full 131 page draft budget online, but here’s a look at some of the highlights:

Taxes will go up

An overall tax increase of 4.5 per cent is proposed this year. The tax increase is not equal across all the classes. Residential taxes will jump 4.9 per cent, while business taxes will rise 3.4 per cent, and seasonal and major/light industry taxes will go up 4.5 per cent. For home owners, the 4.9 per cent increase will also depend on their BC property assessement. If their assessment is higher than the average, their tax increase is likely to be above 4.9 per cent.

Residents can expect a five per cent increase in water and sewer rates as well as a 1.7 percent increase in garbage rates.

Why the increase?

A few new jobs are being added at City Hall. Development Services has requested a building inspector. The additional cost in 2018 is projected at $60K and an additional $25K in 2019.

Engineering Services has requested a civil technician. In 2018, the position is estimated at $70K and another $35K in 2019.

Community Economic Development has requested an additional $35,000 to hire contract workers when needed.

Parks, Recreation and Culture has increased the funding for Street Fest by $5,000 for a total of $60,000 annually.

Departmental expenses

Council – 9.5 per cent increase

The provision for increases in Council indemnities was provided for in 2018. There is no cost recovery for election expenses budgeted for in 2018.

Corporate Administration – 6.8 per cent reduction

“The cost increase in salaries, wages and benefits has been more than offset by a reduction of office expenses, contracted/professional services and other expenses. The cost reductions are refelctive of historical spending,” the plan says.

Bylaw Enforcement – 1.8 per cent increase

The increase is attributed to an increase in salaries, wages and benefits as the department transitioned from contract services to 1.5 CUPE positions. The internal equipment charges weren’t included previously.

Finance and IT – 3.4 per cent increase

The increase is attributed to an increase in salaries, wages and benefits and the use of contracted professionals and maintenance expenses.

Engineering and public works – 5.4 per cent increase

The equipment charges have increased and “are now reflective of the true cost of replacing and maintaining the City’s fleet. There’s an incremental increase in wages and benefits.

Development Services – 7.4 per cent increase

A fully-staffed department means an increase in wages and benefits.

Community Economic Development – 4.7 per cent increase

There’s not as much grant revenue but there’s an increase in maintenance expenses.

Fire/ Rescue Services – 11.7 per cent increase

“The net cost increase is attributable to internal equipment charges. The fire/rescue fleet expenses were not previously charged to Fire/Rescue operations. These costs are now reflective of the true cost of replacing and maintaining the Fire/Rescue fleet,” the report says. “There has been a reduction in office expenses based on actual historical spending.”

Parks, Recreation and Culture – 0.2 per cent reduction

The increase in internal equipment charges has been offset by the increase in department’s revenues.

RCMP – 2.6 per cent reduction

There is a difference between full time equivalents and the authorized number of equivalents. There’s fewer officers on the municipal force than the FTE.

Fiscal Services – 3.1 per cent increase

Additional new construction revenue of $230,000 is budgeted for 2018. There’s an increase in administrative fee recovery

Capital projects

In the long-term general capital plan, the City of Revelstoke has budgeted $58.7 million over 15 years. In 2018, $5,025,174 has been budgeted for captial projects. Here’s a look at some of the projects planned for 2018:

The Kovach Park Skatepark: $818,000 ($600K funded by grants)

Williamson Lake washroom and shower building: $400,000 ($380K funded by grants)

Farwell Splash Park: $655,000 ($555K funded by grants)

Sidewalk and curb rehabilitation and renewal (beginning in 2018 through 2022): $290,000

Paving including patching and repairs (beginning in 2018 through 2022): $7,225,000

Street light upgrades (beginning in 2018 through 2022): $250,000

Storm water design, renewal and restoration (beginning in 2018 through 2022): $365,000

Storm water monitoring, rehabilitation and renewal (beginning in 2018 through 2022): $2,280,000

Third Street water relocation: $200,000

Sewer aeration upgrades $200,000

Other Capital Projects

Some capital projects, which fall under Development Cost Charges, have not been included in the long-term financial plan. A review of DCCs is currently underway. “The long-term capital plan as it relates to DCC projects will have to be amended in the future based on the new DCC bylaw,” the report says. “Financing DCC projects and related growth without debt will be a major challenge for City in the future.”

The following projects are listed in the current DCC bylaw and are considered by the City to be a priority:

Intersection design and construction Fourth Street, Townley Street and Victoria Road – estimated at $2,540,000

Fourth Street and safety improvements – estimated at $1,000,000

Airport and Nichol roundabout – estimated at $640,000

Airport Way sidewalk – estimated at $420,000

Bike lane and safety projects – estimated at $210,000

Bridge replacement – estimated at $5,000,000

Master transportation plan update – estimated at $100,000

Pedestrian safety projects – estimated at $210,000

Sidewalks and active transportation expansion – estimated at $300,000

Illecillewaet River Crossing – estimated at $1,400,000

Greely Transimission Main Upsize – estimated at $15,000,000

Reservoir expansion – estimated at $4,000,000

Supply expansion and upgrade – estimated at $2,000,000

Supply upgrade – golf course well – estimated at $500,000

Water transmission main upsize – estimated at $2,500,000

Sewage lagoon/plant upgrades – estimated at $30,200,000

Lift station expansion – estimated at $3,000,000

What about the debt?

Following the adoption of the City’s Debt Management and Financing/Funding Policy, the City is moving away from a buy now, pay later mentality towards a pay now, buy later philosophy. The plan involves paying monies into a reserve fund for use down the road when needed.

In the long-term financial plan, Revelstoke’s debt is forecast to decrease from under $16 million to around $2 million in 2032.

What’s next?

On March 15, a Committee of the Whole meeting is scheduled. On March 27, at a regular Council meeting, the first three readings of the 2018-2022 financial plan and long-term financial plan are proposed.

On April 12, a Committee of the Whole meeting will discuss the final review of tax distribution and tax rates

On April 17, a Special Regular Council meeting will adopt the 2018-2022 financial plan bylaw and give first three readings of the tax rates bylaw.

On May 8, at a Regular Council meeting, the tax rates bylaw will be discussed and likely adopted.


 

@marissatiel
marissa.tiel@revelstokereview.com

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