In a marathon three-hour budget session on Jan. 21, Revelstoke City Council took a step closer to setting the rate for property tax increases in 2014.
After presentations from all city department directors, and a comparatively short period of discussion of public submissions, council asked staff to present two tax increase scenarios within the next week.
The first scenario is a two-per-cent residential rate increase, and a one-per-cent commercial rate increase. The second scenario calls for a two-per-cent residential rate increase, and no increase to the commercial rate.
Council hopes to vote on a final package by Jan. 28, and has asked city staff to find roughly $100,000 in savings and present their proposal before then.
Council debated their role in the process. Some suggested specific cuts. For example, Coun. Linda Nixon felt that not replacing the recently departed Director of Corporate Administration and Communications position would be a good cut. (Council heard the position came with an approximately $110,000 per year salary.)
Others, like Coun. Chris Johnston, said it wasn’t council’s business to tell staff what to cut; he argued council should just instruct staff to find savings, and leave it up to them.
City council and city staff have also drafted replies to public questions submitted at the Jan. 14 town hall meeting, although discussion of that input at the Jan. 21 special budget meeting was over in a couple of minutes.
The three-hour meeting was wide-ranging. Some highlights:
– The engineering department argued vehemently for a new generator that would be necessary to prevent the sewer in parts of Lower Town from backing up during prolonged power outages.
– Council heard the storm sewer system hasn’t been studied properly since the 1970s, and it’s in rough shape, needing lots of expensive work.
– There was some debate over the future of city hall renovations. How should they move forward? Would the renovation costs be much more than currently forecast? Is an elevator required?
For more details on ongoing budget deliberations, see the Jan. 29 issue of the Revelstoke Times Review.