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City ups taxes three per cent

Council has adopted the 2014 municipal tax rate bylaw which will result in a three per cent tax increase.

The outcome of the vote was the same it had been throughout the budget meetings leading up to Tuesday’s final vote.

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

Councillors Ivan Bonnell, Danica Hughes and Surinderpal Rathor voted against.

“The city has more assets that it has to repair than it can afford so something has to change,” Bourdon said after the vote, encouraging the public to let council know its wishes, where people want to see reductions or what services need to stay in place.

Voters need to be clear and go forward to the politicians before November’s municipal election, he added.

Once a budget is set, it’s council’s responsibility to find efficiencies and ways of making reductions.

Council relies heavily on staff because it’s their area of expertise, Bourdon said.

Cook said budget discussions had been healthy leading up to the final adoption of the bylaw.

“Nobody wants to increase taxes, but we do need to have a plan to address outstanding infrastructure work. The road pavement management plan is one of the pieces that we’ve tried to address with the two per cent increase,” Cook said.

The remaining one per cent will go to cover inflationary costs.

Council also wants to have a larger community conversation on how the tax rate is distributed across the different classes, such as residential, commercial and industrial Cook said.

The tax rate increase means an additional $23.47 per $100,000 of assessed value for the residential rate class, an additional $63 per $100,000 for the business rate class, and $340 per $100,000 for the major industry rate class.

The city receives 39 per cent  of its tax revenue from the residential class, 26 per cent from the business class, 23 per cent from major industry, and 12 per cent from other rate classes (light industry/utilities/farm rec-non profit).

“It’s definitely a challenge to balance all of the needs when we have a number of fixed costs. Labour is a big part of our budget, as are the RCMP fixed costs,” Cook said.

All of council appreciated staff going back and finding $400,000 worth of reduction in operating costs for the 2014 budget, Cook added.

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