For the second year in a row municipal taxes will not be increased in Williams Lake.
On Thursday city council gave final reading to its municipal tax rate bylaw and its financial plan 2016-2020.
“Once again it was not an easy process,” said Mayor Walt Cobb Friday. “There was still much cleaning up to do from past practices but feel we are almost to the end of that process.”
Council pursued the zero percent increase in an attempt to assure the taxpayer the city has done everything possible to be accountable and people will know where each and every dollar is spent, Cobb said.
“There may still be some disagreement about that, depending on one’s point of view, but at least it is open and transparent.”
Williams Lake must now depend on growth and increases in assessment for the future if the city is to increase spending and not have to make cuts in the existing services or increase taxes, Cobb added.
While the rate per thousand of individual taxes has not changed, if your assessment has changed then you may see an increase or decrease.
“One must also remember that we are only in control of the city portion of your tax notice,” Cobb said. “There is the school district as well as other lines the City has not control over.”
Coun. Scott Nelson chairs the city’s finance committee and said the zero tax increase is good news for Williams Lake while other jurisdictions are seeing an increase in taxes.
And while taxes aren’t being increased, Nelson said services are.
“We are increasing the RCMP budget by $300,000, from $4.2 million to $4.5 million,” Nelson said. “Crime is the number one issue in Williams Lake and council wants to continue to ensure safety is the top priority.”
The roads and maintenance budget will be increased by $120,000 to $2 million, while $1 million will be spent on the roads and rehabilitation program.
In the 2016 budget it is anticipated $8,070,000 will go to infrastructure and equipment renewal, $4,468,000 to policing, $4,232,000 to recreation and culture, $4,197,000 to water, sewer and garbage, $3,177,000 to government administration, planning and bylaw, and $3,081,000 to roads for a total of $27,225,000.
Council also received the audited financial statements Thursday evening.
They will be forwarded to an upcoming council meeting for final adoption and made available to the public.