The 2014 budget season is underway after City of Revelstoke staff posted the first draft of the budget online on Nov. 27.
The draft document proposes a 3.9 per cent tax increase for residential, business and light-industrial properties and a big 11.82 per cent increase for major industry.
*** Draft budget embedded at the bottom of this story ***
In a preamble, the five-year financial plan warns that development of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, “creates challenges for balancing city revenues, costs and investments,” and that, “projected operating costs currently exceed … revenues, prompting the need for careful consideration of service levels to avoid unacceptable tax increases.”
The budget places the blame for tax increases on supplementary tax assessment appeals: “Approximately three per cent of the increase for 2014 relates to the recovery of revenue lost from successful supplementary assessments in 2013,” the report states. Although the exact revenue loss created by the supplementary assessments is unknown, a recent city report pegged it in the $250,000 range.
The supplementary tax assessments have already been blamed for stalled renovations at city hall.
The budget document places a dollar figure on the ongoing, stalled renovations at city hall for the first time, estimating the project will cost a whopping $800,000 – all to be absorbed in the 2014 budget.
A few huge-ticket items pop up in the long-term capital budget. $4.5 million is budgeted for sewer outflow relocation – a new pipe system to move waste from the sewage treatment plant into the Columbia River at Centennial Park. Currently, the waste is dumped into the Illecillewaet River.
The Downie force main replacement will cost $1 million and the sewage treatment place expansion is budgeted for $1.2 million – both start after 2014.
Two new fire vehicles – a truck and a water tender – are budgeted at $725,000 for both in 2015.
Kovach Park washrooms are budgeted for $80,000 in 2014. The bicycle pump track planned for Centennial Park is budgeted for $30,000 in 2014, while the skateboard park is budgeted for $50,000 between 2014–2016.
The draft financial plan notes capital project spending is creating “pressure” on the budget: “The pressure to deal with an ever-increasing burden of capital projects as our infrastructure is consumed places acute stress on our limited resources. This is particularly evident in water and sewer functions where significant rate increases are anticipated in order to meet the costs of capital projects.”
A special budget committee will meet for the first time on Nov. 28 to start going over the draft budget; the process typically ends in April, although city council has been trying to complete the budget earlier. The public meeting starts at 4 p.m. in council chambers.