Revelstoke city councillors approved increases to water and sewer fees for 2021. (File photo)

Revelstoke city councillors approved increases to water and sewer fees for 2021. (File photo)

UPDATE: Council votes against fee increases

The proposed increases passed third reading Nov. 24, Michael Brooks-Hill revoked support at adoption

Councillor Mike Brooks-Hill revoked support of an update to the fees and charges bylaw after learning increases to building permit fees would actually be much more than originally presented.

Currently, building permit charges include a base fee of $100 plus $9 per $1,000 of assigned value as determined by city, referred as an valuation schedule. City staff had proposed a ten per cent increase to that valuation schedule.

The city uses a valuation schedule to look at the size of a build and calculate building permit charges.

However, staff also proposed a change to the schedule that would have seen second and third floors of houses valued the same as the first storey, which meant costs almost doubling from $130 per square foot to $257 per square foot.

“I have concerns about the valuation schedule, in particular the second and third storey, that is increasing the cost for a single-family building permit by somewhere between 30 and 40 per cent where as we are being told 10 per cent is needed to get close to covering costs, but this, as far as I’m concerned, is quite different than what’s laid out in the report,” said Brooks-Hill., at the meeting.

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Though the bylaw passed third reading on Nov. 24, more discussion on Dec. 8 saw councillor Brooks-Hill revoke his support, changing the vote to him, Cody Younker and Rob Elliott against and Gary Sulz, Jackie Rhind and Nicole Cherlet in favour.

A tie vote results in a defeated motion.

The now-defeated bylaw update also included increases to sewer, water and garbage fees.

Water fees were proposed to increase by five per cent for both city and Big Eddy users, sewer fees by 10 per cent and garbage fees by just under two per cent per dwelling unit and the same per secondary suite.

“Overall, I think it is reckless to start raising fees and taxes in an uncertain time,” Elliott said.

Brooks-Hill initially voted in favour of the increases, saying he would rather see targeted support for people who need it to recover from the pandemic.

However, public submissions since then highlighted the impact of the changes to the valuation schedule, which appear to not have been clear to the councillors at previous meetings.

Councillor Jackie Rhind continued to voice her support of the fee increases, including the change to the valuation schedule, saying people moving from Vancouver and developers will be fine if the building permit fees are increased.

“We need to think about our taxpayers and the people who elected us,” she said. “They’ve been asking us to reduce the burden on them and now we have a way to cost recovery in a way that is more responsible and we are not taking it.”

Fees have been increasing annually in the city. Water went up by five per cent in 2018, 10 per cent in 2019 and five per cent in 2020.

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Valuation was increased by 30 per cent, last year as it hadn’t been increased by more than 2 per cent a year since 2008 and the city was not recovering costs, said Marianne Wade, director of development services.

Tania McCabe, city director of finance, claimed Revelstoke’s sewer and water fees were low compared to other municipalities in the past but with the increases in the past few years Revelstoke is now in the middle of the pack. The past increases bolster the city’s reserve funds, which the city said will be used to fix aging infrastructure.

Although this bylaw was defeated, city staff will likely come forward with another proposed update at another council meeting.


 

@RevelstokeRevue
editor@revelstoketimesreview.com

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