Residential taxpayers can expect to see their taxes go up by 2.5 per cent in 2017 following three days of budget planning by city council.
That figure falls within the budget parameters of a 2.5 to three per cent tax increase that city staff had built in to the 10-year, 2017-2026 financial plan.
The hike equates to a $36 tax increase for the average assessed Campbell River home.
Included in the 2.5 per cent increase is a 0.75 per cent tax allotment that will go directly towards the city’s capital plan which includes several infrastructure improvement projects.
Coun. Colleen Evans said as the city’s assets age, it’s vital that council has a long-term plan for staying on top of necessary improvements which communities across the nation are having to address.
“Infrastructure continues to be a major crisis in municipalities across B.C.,” Evans said. “Just a cautionary note that it’s not going away.”
Coun. Charlie Cornfield, who made the motion to allocate the 0.75 per cent towards capital (which is the same amount as in 2016), said he agreed with Evans that it’s critical the city is putting money away for such investments.
“I support 100 per cent having money set aside for infrastructure,” Cornfield said.
To that end, council approved a lengthy list of capital projects including $250,000 in 2017 and $2.97 million in 2019 to replace aging infrastructure along on Shoppers Row between St. Ann’s and 11th Avenue. The upgrades will also deal with ongoing issues related to the London plane trees along Shoppers, electrical capacity and storm water flooding. The plan also includes $250,000 in 2020 and $2.21 million in 2021 for similar upgrades on Shoppers Row between 11th Avenue and 13th Avenue.
The capital plan also includes $300,000 in 2017 for sewer upgrades on Larwood-Erickson as well as $300,000 in 2017 to replace the existing waterfront sewer forcemain between Rockland Road and the Maritime Heritage Centre, which is undersized and in poor condition and frequent breaks result in raw sewage spilling onto the beach and into the ocean.
The budget also contains $655,000 in 2017 for Big Rock Boat Ramp improvements as well as $408,000 for the Robron Fieldhouse which is a partnership with Campbell River Youth Soccer Association.
Mayor Andy Adams said the budget is one that the community can be proud of.
“I’m really comfortable with what this budget is doing as far as enhancements,” Adams said. “I think this budget is touching on a lot of community groups…and financial stability.”
The budget contains a handful of items requested of council by community groups, including a sprinkler system for the Sybil Andrews Cottage, joint funding for a pocket park at the end of Spruce Street in Campbellton, as well as money for the fieldhouse, and funding for a staff position at the Seniors Centre to help with the lunch program.
City Manager Deborah Sargent said she believes it’s a budget that the community can be proud of.
“I think this has something for everyone in this community,” Sargent said. “I really believe you’ve got a budget that maintains a momentum out in the community.
“I entered budget discussions saying I was ‘cautiously optimistic’ but after listening to budget deliberations I think I’m leaning more towards the optimistic side.”
- $40,000 in 2017 for design improvements to the parking lot on Cypress Street (gravel lot near the fire hall) including paving and drainage improvements.
- $225,000 in 2017 for design work for a replacement for the downtown fire hall.
- $40,000 in 2017 for new glass transit shelters.
- $129,649 for Elk Falls Cemetery upgrade
- $140,000 in 2019 for a new city welcome sign and landscaping at Jubilee Parkway and Highway 19A.
- $15,000 with Campbellton Neighbourhood Association matching funds for development of a pocket park at the end of Spruce Street with river access.
- $13,000 for automated watering system at Sybil Andrews Cottage.
- $70,000 for design and construction of water and sewer servicing for new lease lots at the airport to attract new tenants.
- $195,000 for two new firefighter positions to improve response times, meet regulatory compliance, reduce overtime costs and reduce fleet operational costs.
- $82,000 in 2018 for transit service expansion of 1,500 additional hours annually and two new buses.