Revelstoke city council will present their draft budget for public feedback in the coming weeks.
At their Tuesday meeting, council approved the draft details, which will see a 4.5 per cent property tax hike overall and no funding to hire an additional RCMP officer.
Despite a motion, made by Coun. Steven Cross, requesting a one per cent increase to property taxes to bolster the core budget, a two per cent core budget increase was approved.
“I understand we’ve got some costs that are not within our power to change, but, I also think one per cent gives the city enough to work with those costs,” Cross said.
“It creates a little downward pressure and creativity and I think that would be a good thing to do at this time.”
However, with only a one per cent increase Tanya McCabe, director of finance for the city, said that would leave the city running a deficit.
“Revelstoke is facing so many different pressures I want to make sure that our departments are well staffed and properly funded to be able to hit those challenges head on and make some progress for our city so that we can increase our revenues through more development,” said Coun. Nicole Cherlet.
The motion passed with Cherlet, Rob Elliott, Gary Sulz and Michael Brooks-Hill in favour and Cross, Jackie Rhind and Cody Younker opposed.
Breaking down the 4.9 per cent tax increase, the draft budget also includes a one per cent increase in property taxes to go towards building the Transportation Infrastructure Reserve as part of the capital budget.
Brooks-Hill, Rhind, Cherlet and Sulz voted in favour of the motion.
“I don’t want to see Revelstoke borrow money to repair roads,” Brooks-Hill said.
Cross was also opposed to this increase saying he would like to defer the decision to another year in hopes of addressing affordability issues and keeping taxes reasonably low.
The draft budget also includes a 0.4 per cent tax increase this year and another 0.4 per cent next year to hire a communications and engagement officer for the city.
This line item was approved with Younker, Cross and Rhind opposed.
Cherlet was in favour of hiring a communications professional, saying she believes city staff need to work on their own portfolios rather than doing communications work off the side of their desks.
Cross was opposed to the additional team member, saying he would rather see the money used to teach, coach or mentor the current senior staff to be better at communication, rather than hiring new staff.
All councillors voted in favour of increasing taxes 0.2 per cent this year in order to hire an summer student for the IT department.
All councillors also voted in favour of increasing taxes 0.7 per cent this year and 0.2 per cent next year in order to hire a manager of development services.
A 0.2 per cent increase was approved to hire a victim’s services assistant, however, RCMP Staff Sgt. Kurt Grabinsky’s request for another officer was voted down, with Younker, Cross, Brooks-Hill, Rhind and Elliott opposed.
At the moment the total tax increase would be 4.5 per cent if this draft of the budget is approved. To provide feedback to the city on the proposed budget email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-837-2161.
*Updated on March 27. The previous story reported a 4.9 per cent increase. That was a mistake.