Revelstoke city council approved a motion in Committee of the Whole Thursday to raise 2023 property taxes by three per cent. Staff gave council three budget scenarios with different rates of increase: three, four and five per cent.
After a two week public comment period council unanimously voted for the lowest amount.
“We all know that things are getting harder and harder to afford here in town," said Councillor Austin Luciow.
He said the three per cent increase covers the city's operating costs and allows it to put aside money.
"We obviously have bigger projects coming down the pipeline in the next couple of years, but for this year I think three per cent is appropriate," he said.
Couns. Lee Devin and Tim Stapenhurst as well as Mayor Gary Sulz also spoke in favour of the lowest increase.
The public had a chance to vote on the property tax increase amounts in an online poll through the city's engagement platform, Talk Revelstoke. The deadline to comment was Wednesday afternoon and 48 people voted before then. Of them, 27 were in favour of the three per cent increase, 10 for four per cent and 11 for five per cent.
Five people emailed questions and comments to the interim financial director, Sheanna Moore. One of them said they support a four per cent increase in property tax, saying "I agree there needs to be some big increases to fund these important projects."
Some projects on the horizon that the city highlighted in a budget overview include replacing the arena and building a fire station in Southside.
Councillors also approved utility rate increases suggested by staff, including:
- 4 per cent increase for garbage every year until 2027;
- 5 per cent increase for water users every year until 2027;
- 15 per cent increase for Big Eddy water users in 2023 and 4% after that until 2027;
- And a 20 per cent increase for sewer users and frontage taxes in 2023 and 4% after that until 2027.
The high rates for sewer are to fund an update of the waste water treatment plant. Work on that is supposed to start this year.
The high rates for Big Eddy water users are to save money to replace pipes in the system in 2029.
Coun. Lee Devlin said he's very much in favour of the utility rate increase amounts.
"I think that's been discussed as something that's needed ... to bring things up to par. They've been underfunded for a little while here," he said.
Line items approved in the 2023 budget include $33,184 to hire a communications specialist; $13,500 for Host Compliance Software, which helps the city track short term rentals and $50,000 to the golf club for ongoing grant in aid to support the non-profit that runs it.
Coun. Tim Palmer noted several times that council didn't have enough time to go through the line items on the 2023 budget to get details about why they're included.
"I probably won't vote in favour of this in its current form in council." Palmer said.
The city has until May 15 to approve the budget. The next step is for the mayor and councillors to ratify the tax rate amounts in a council meeting.
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