Revelstoke city council stays course on tax increase

A late rally against a proposed 3.5 per cent property tax increase wasn't enough to budge the rate when council supporters, staff resisted

A last-minute rally by some city councillors seeking to lower the proposed city tax rate increase of 3.5 per cent came close to reopening the discussion, but in the end supporters held firm on the increase.

The renewed discussion came at Revelstoke City Council’s April 23 meeting.

Perennial tax fighter Coun. Tony Scarcella led the charge against the increase. “The direction we are going, we chase people out of town and we don’t attract business,” Scarcella said.

Coun. Chris Johnston expressed his willingness to re-open the debate.

But Coun. Phil Welock wanted to stand pat on the budget, saying there is a need to build reserves: “According to our MP Mr. David Wilks, 2014 is going to be an infrastructure year.” The argument is reserve funds will be needed to match anticipated federal grants.

Coun. Linda Nixon expanded on her reasons for supporting the budget, saying the perception that council hadn’t worked hard and listened is wrong. She said she heard the business view from the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce, but said city expenditures to grow the resort had also greatly benefitted businesses. Nixon underscored the need to build the reserves, pointing out that just one incident – the culvert collapse on Airport Way – had decimated reserves. “Last year we had a surplus and we blew it on one thing,” she said.

City Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer led a passionate defence of city staff, saying characterizations they were inefficient were wrong. “Generally, they do an outstanding job in finding efficiencies,” Palmer said.

He felt three myths had arisen during the budget process, and disputed them. They are:

– that the budget doesn’t address operational efficiencies; Palmer cautioned critics “not to confuse efficiencies with service levels.”

– that core operational costs are resulting in tax increases; “That is not true,” Palmer said, pointing to increased services, and costs from the museum, transit, RCMP and other key increases as examples of expenses driving increases.

– that the budget does not address debt, borrowing and reserves; “I am confident that we have turned the tide on debt, borrowing and reserves,” Palmer said.

Mayor David Raven anchored the defence of tax increases, saying they were driven by the costs of resort development, service increases are reserve-building. He said the city was still recovering from debt issues that started when reserves were used up in the late 1990s. “We’re at the point now [where] we’re borrowing for simple maintenance,” he said. “It’s also been exacerbated by the growing demand for services.”

Raven said he was willing to work through the weekend on a revision if council had the stomach for it.

A resigned Coun. Johnston abstained from the vote. “I hear it year after year that next year is going to be better, and it’s just the same thing every year,” he said.

Coun. Scarcella asked the mayor what was going to attract business and people to the community under a high tax regime.

“They want to move here for the lifestyle we are offering,” Raven said, noting the community doesn’t suffer from doctor shortages like other Interior towns.

Scarcella was the only vote in opposition of third reading of the budget bylaw.

 

 

Just Posted

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

Seventh round of negotiations between Canada and U.S. wrap up in Washington D.C.

City of Revelstoke pays $6.66 million in wages in 2018

Top earner was former CAO Alan Chabot

UPDATE: Man presumed dead after boat capsizes south of Revelstoke

One Alberta man made it to shore and was rescued, the other is still missing

Acoustic show at The Last Drop this week

Live shows go Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 6:30 p.m.

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

Man accused of assault at South Okanagan beach gets bail

Thomas Brayden Kruger-Allen was granted bail at the Penticton provincial courthouse on Monday

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Most Read