City staff are recommending a 1.13 per cent tax increase to the city’s base budget for 2015.
While that figure is still preliminary, it’s the magic number that the city’s financial department has determined will erase the deficit and allow for the status quo.
Ron Bowles, the city’s corporate services manager, told city council Monday at its first budget planning session that the 2015 base budget has a deficit of $290,325.
“This is equivalent to a 1.13 per cent increase across all classes for 2015,” Bowles said. “This will result in approximately a $16 tax increase per household,” Bowles said.
Last year, the average assessed home in Campbell River paid $189 per month in taxes and user fees for a wide range of city services including drinking water and sewer services, emergency response, garbage collection, parks and recreation programs, streets and sidewalks.
At the outset of Monday’s financial planning session, Mayor Andy Adams said he is aware that taxes are an important issue to the community and he wants council to reflect that.
“We heard very clearly during the election campaign, right through the fall, that taxes are extremely important to people,” Adams said. “And as we go through deliberations, I want council to be mindful of that, that we are representing the community as a whole. While we have a number of requests and there are a lot of Service Level Change Requests, it will be up to council collectively to be cognizant of the message from the community as we move that forward.”
While setting a tax rate is still a few days away, council did approve in principle its base budget, going department by department.
Council also made the decision to re-establish its council contingency account at $150,000 for 2014. Last year, $40,000 was taken from council contingency to pay into a carbon neutral account as part of the city’s commitment to the Climate Action Charter.
Instead, council agreed to have that $40,000 come from the city’s sustainability department in 2015.
“I think we’ve tossed this $40,000 from account to account and I think it’s important we align it with the department responsible for our carbon offset program,” said Coun. Larry Samson. “I think this is the home where it should sit.”
Council also made the decision Monday to set aside $30,000 for the creation of three new task forces proposed by Adams during the inaugural council meeting in December – the Forestry Task Force, Development Advisory Task Force and the Public Waterfront 3.5 Acre Site Task Force.
Adams said they are expected to get underway sometime in April.
Council continues its financial planning today and is expected to debate its reserve funds.
City staff are recommending council continue to take $30,000 from its gaming reserve funds to operate Centennial Pool and use $25,000 for downtown business improvement programs as well as $500 for a communications merchandise program.
Financial planning takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, with an optional day on Friday starting at 10 a.m. to complete the budget.