Revelstoke City Hall

Revelstoke City Hall

Revelstoke finance director: Hotel tax skews city spending upward

In a letter, the city finance director said city spending isn't as bad as a watchdog group claims, citing hotel tax and accounting changes

Included in the city’s Nov. 26 council agenda was a rebuttal of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’s BC Municipal Spending Watch 2013 report, which was released earlier in November.

That report found Revelstoke was the 12th worst “freest spending municipality” in B.C. Real operating spending per capita increased by 89 per cent between 2000 an 2011. Between 2010 and 2011, per capita spending jumped 13 per cent in one year. According to the report, Revelstoke jumped from 26th worst to 12th worst on one year.

Inglis categorically dismissed the report, saying the small-business interest group’s report was “biased in favour of supporting its particular point of view” and labelled some its comparisons as “spurious.”

He said a new accounting system adopted in B.C. in 2009 shifted the way capital assets were accounted for, moving their depreciation into the “operating expenses” category. This artificially inflates overall spending, he said.

Revelstokians are familiar with the hotel tax, a scheme adopted when Revelstoke became an official resort municipality. Although the tax is collected through a hotel tax, Inglis said the new funding is expended as an operating expense. This inflates expenditures, although the tax is not a property tax, he wrote.

Inglis pointed a finger at senior government downloading as a cause of increased spending.

However, he attributed the bulk of expenditure growth in the city budget to projects approved or ushered in by past councils: Revelstoke Mountain Resort, the new RCMP station, the aquatic centre, taking over the Revelstoke Court House and the water treatment plant at Greeley.