Council raids economic opportunity fund in budget balancing effort

Money diverted from economic development fund to offset Revelstoke taxes, but result is less money for future economic development

Revelstoke City Council has decided to stop a $70,000 annual tax payment to an Economic Development Commission (EDC) fund, a development fund that has helped pay for projects such as the Revelstoke Airport expansion and the Revelstoke Railway Museum.

In an accounting change, the EDC will now be supported by the Economic Opportunity Fund, which ultimately is paid for by BC Hydro grants-in-lieu of taxes.

What the accounting switch means is taxpayers will be charged $70,000 less in taxes annually, but future economic opportunity projects will also be poorer to the tune of $70,000 per year.

The decision came at Revelstoke City Council’s Jan. 14 meeting, and Councillors Steve Bender and Chris Johnston voted against the move.

The change also required permission from Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area B director Loni Parker. In fact, the accounting switch splits the $70,000 in savings between the CSRD Area B ($15,000) and the City of Revelstoke ($55,000).

Like a sewer or water infrastructure fund saves up money to pay for sewer or water projects, the economic development fund saves for projects that promote economic development, such as the airport.

Council heard the fund now sits at approximately $650,000.

Is it a cynical raid designed to reduce taxes through an accounting trick? Listen to this exchange from Revelstoke City Council’s Jan. 14 meeting:

Coun. Chris Johnston: “If I were a cynic, I would say this could be seen as an opportunist move to – on the short term – say that taxes have been reduced, whereas in the long term you’re going to pay for it, in that the fund that could be used for other economic development projects is being put into an operations junket, so to speak.”

Mayor David Raven replied: “It’s kind of where it is.”

 

 

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