City proposes lowest tax increase in eight years

Williams Lake city council gave the first three readings to its 2013 -2017 financial plan at the April 23 regular council meeting.

Williams Lake city council gave the first three readings to its 2013 -2017 financial plan at the April 23 regular council meeting.

Adoption of the five-year financial plan must take place before council can pass its annual tax bylaw and set its tax rate.

Council is proposing a 1.97 per cent tax revenue increase, which if adopted will be the lowest increase since 2005.

The rate will translate into a residential increase of $15.33 per $100,000 of assessment, $20 for business, and $1,597 for industry.

Property tax distribution will remain the same in 2013 as it was in 2012.

Residential will contribute 38 per cent, business 25 per cent, industry is 22 per cent, and the remainder by other classes.

There will also be no changes to water and sewer fees. They have remained the same since 2010.

The airport is self-sustaining and is kept separate from the budget.

“It is funded by fees and services charges,” director of financial services Pat Higgins explained.

At the budget meeting held April 17, council also proposed borrowing $215,00 from landfill reserves, at a five-year-term, to apply toward the South Lakeside Project. The rest will be funded through capital reserves.

Capital projects for 2013 total $4.9 million and include widening and repaving of South Lakeside Drive, Phase 5 of the River Valley storm sewer upgrade,  public Wi-Fi at city hall and Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex, city-wide parking lot improvements and a pedestrian underpass/bridge connecting Mackenzie Avenue and the River Valley Trail.

Finance committee chair Geoff Bourdon noted that 47 per cent of the capital budget is being funded by grants.

“I think that’s important for the community to see that we are so reliant on provincial and federal funding for a lot of the projects we do,” Bourdon said. “Funding dries up for three or four years and our five year financial plan has to be adjusted.”

Going forward, council is going to be looking at a “realistic” financial plan that leaves room for flexibility if something happens, Bourdon added.

Council will adopt the five-year-plan and give three readings to the tax bylaw on May 7. Final adoption of the tax bylaw will take place at a special council meeting on May 14.


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