The City of Castlegar’s budget open house was met was very little fanfare on Tuesday night, with fewer than 10 people attending.
“Typically, I think council has a good read on what the community wants,” chief administrative officer John Malcolm said of the low turnout.
Public input will be taken into consideration before the vote to approve the budget goes ahead in March, but Coun. Kevin Chernoff said there wasn’t much input at all, aside from one member of the public who would like to see the money allocated for paving (currently $600,000) brought up to $1 million.
For 2011, the budget recommends a tax increase of three per cent for residential taxes and one per cent for commercial taxes.
Since 2002, residential taxes have increased by 3.3 per cent and business taxes have increased by 1.4 per cent.
The taxes are projected to increase to keep pace with rising costs, according to the city’s budget highlight package.
Over the next five years, taxes are expected to continue to increase, with a two per cent jump each year from 2012 to 2015 for residential taxes and one per cent each year for businesses.
Industry taxation is expected to go down, meanwhile, with a 2.3 per cent decrease in 2011 and 2012, a 1.5 per cent decrease in 2013 and a one per cent decrease in the two years thereafter.
Even with the proposed tax increase, it is estimated that in 2011, Castlegar will remain competitive in the tax market within the area, with municipal taxes on an average home estimated at $705.
The only projected amount lower than Castlegar is in Fruitvale at $532.
The budget also recommends the hiring freeze be lifted in order to hire a new employee in the transportation and civic works department.
Since Castlegar amalgamated with Blueberry in 2004, the added kilometres of road, water and sewer are straining the current workforce, so another body is recommended in order to maintain current service levels.
The big-ticket item for 2011 will be the sewer system expansion with a price tag of $990,000.
City council will consider input from the open house at their regular meeting on March 7 and it will then be adopted at the March 21 meeting.