There's some good news for beleaguered taxpayers in Lake Country this week.
Council this week approved a 2016 budget which includes no increases in municipal taxes.
A "Transportation for Tomorrow" funding formula was approved in Dec. 2015 that included a $125 parcel tax in 2016 to finance roads and transportation projects and maintenance.
It was able to apply revenues resulting from community growth toward reducing the impact on taxpayers, and therefore a 2016 budget with a zero percent property tax increase for Lake Country taxpayers was approved Tuesday evening.
Before making any decisions, council was provided with a report on the status of the General Fund, Water Fund, and Sewer Fund showing positions of sustainability with no impact on taxation and no further increase required.
As a result of construction growth during 2015 and BC Assessment roll figures showing a 3.28 percent tax base increase in revenue for the municipality, recommendations were put forward to maintain existing services, incorporate inflationary increases as well as some items already prioritized by council in order to reduce the amount required to fund the base budget through taxation.
The Jan. 12 report to council itemizes the various requests and recommendations.
“Council and staff have been working very hard together to provide projects and services without an excessive burden to tax payers,” said Mayor James Baker.
“Our priority is on keeping Lake Country in a sustainable position and delivering the services that residents value most.”
Various projects funded from reserves, grants, and other contributions not effecting general taxation were approved.
Some significant community projects that were approved are:
- The final phase of the Water Meters installation ($1.2 million)
- The upgrade of the Seymour Sewer Lift Station ($750,000)
- Various funding for planning the development and management of the recently acquired Rail Corridor (approximately $200,000)
- The update of the Official Community Plan ($120,000)
- Safe Routes to School Program ($1.8 million) - Specifically:
- The Greenhow Pathway
- The Sherman Road Improvements
- The Woodsdale Road Improvements (linked to the Seymour Lift Station Upgrade project)
- Bottom Wood Lake Road – Berry to Lodge Improvements
- Carr’s Landing Road Improvements ($500,000)
“It was truly a concerted and collaborative effort on the part of all,” said Chief Administrative Officer Alberto De Feo.
“I am especially thankful for the effort and leadership of Chief Financial Officer Rose Bronswyk Kassa throughout the budget process. We are all pleased with the outcome.”
The February 18, 2016 meeting of Council will include a discussion of carry-forward items from 2015.