City nudges toward three per cent tax increase

City council took one more step Tuesday toward approving a three per cent tax hike for 2014.

In a vote of four to three, the 2014 budget and five-year financial plan were adopted. The tax rate bylaw received the first three readings. The final vote will take place at the May 13 regular meeting.

Mayor Kerry Cook and councillors Sue Zacharias, Laurie Walters and Geoff Bourdon voted in favour.

The three per cent would see one per cent covering inflationary costs and two per cent going toward future pavement management projects.

“This budget again demonstrates council’s commitment to smart planning for the future,” Cook said. “We accomplished the South Lakeside paving and widening project without borrowing because of previous planning, so we know laying the groundwork for the future is the best way to address the city’s $50 million infrastructure debt without borrowing from our taxpayers. We are planning ahead to maintain streets each year according to a pavement management plan before they deteriorate further, and at a much higher cost.”

Councillors Surinderpal Rathor, Danica Hughes and Ivan Bonnell voted against the financial plan and the tax rate bylaw.

“After 10 years I think the community deserves a zero per cent tax increase for 2014,” Rathor said, noting he was sad to vote against the budget because staff has worked really hard to reduce it from $32.5 million in 2013 to $31.99 million in 2014.

Pavement reserves would be depleted without a tax increase, he agreed, but said council could ask the public for the money when it needs it in the future.

For the third year in a row, the budget does not contain any new long-term or short-term borrowing and there are no changes to the water and sewer utility rates, the city noted in a press release Thursday.


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