City decides on 2015 budget plan

Public input is needed for the 2015-2019 Financial Plan

  • Apr. 9, 2015 7:00 a.m.

Chris Stedile

Castlegar News

Castlegar Council is proposing a 2015 tax increase of an average of $56 per household, along with a two per cent commercial tax increase.

The budget will be presented to the public at the Community forum on April 21 from 4:30 to 7:00 pm.

Total consolidated revenue for the 2015 budget is $21,956,000 while the expenditures are valued at $22,766,000. This leaves a deficit of $810,000.

The budget development process began with a strategic planning meeting late February with additional meetings held throughout the month of March.

These sessions allowed council the opportunity to discuss work plans, projects and service levels and make certain they were in line with the city’s top priorities.

Out of these meetings, council focused on three main points of interest: infrastructure management, economic development and quality of life initiatives.

About $5,000,000 has been allocated to recently announced Columbia Avenue Redevelopment project, which includes the replacement of aging water main structures, sewer, pavement and new walkways and bicycle paths.

The provincial and federal governments are expected to fund two thirds of the project.

A street tree program is also proposed.

“[The program] is a key Official Community Plan implementation action step and is a core element to achieving many of the city’s environmental, transportation and aesthetic community objectives,” the budget plan states.

Last year, $10,000 was allocated to this project and close to $32,000 will be used this year.

Ninth Avenue storm system improvements will be receiving $160,000 and $1 million will be put towards a new fire engine ladder truck.

The current truck is reaching its 30 year mandatory replacement milestone and a new truck is at least a 20 year investment. The new truck is expected to add an incentive to those looking to build large box or multi-level buildings due to its increased access range and mobility.

In an attempt to eliminate the need for the use of caustic soda at the South Sewer Treatment Plant the city will allocate  $375,000 to construct an anoxic zone. It is estimated that once completed, this project will save Castlegar up to $75,000 each year.

Airport reliability is still high on council’s agenda and as a result, nearly $60,000 has been set aside for a new airport business case and strategic plan.

On the community side of things, council has money reserved for several projects and initiatives.

An off-leash dog park at Millenium Park will receive $125,000 and an additional $15,000 will be allocated to initiatives such as Communities in Bloom and SculptureWalk.

Council will allocate $19,427 to the Community Foundation of Castlegar.

Lastly, council has decided to spend $50,000 to recruit more physicians. Regional areas I and J will be helping fund this search.

“The 2015 budget also proposes to make a significant draw down of reserves,” the budget report reads. “It authorizes that $3.9 million from accumulated reserves be spent on general, water, sewer and airport fund projects and authorizes $1,133,000 in debt financing for the Columbia Avenue Redevelopment project.”

The city is always looking for ways to get the most out of government funding and this will ensure they can take full advantage of that, in tandem with lower tax rates.

Once a public meeting is held and council is comfortable with the budget, it will be made official.

Out of the 161 communities in B.C. Castlegar is currently listed as 62nd lowest in terms of total residential taxation.

 

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