No tax hike for Hope in 2014

Council has decided to move forward with a zero per cent municipal tax increase this year

After months of political discord in Hope, taxpayers can breathe a sigh of relief.

Council has decided to move forward with a zero per cent municipal tax increase this year. A 2.2 per cent increase was originally proposed at a public consultation meeting earlier this month, but council has opted to dip into a $5 million surplus to offset the $153,000 in property tax revenue.

“I certainly respect and appreciate the work that’s gone into the budget to date, but I believe we are personally in a position to offer zero per cent increase for the coming year in light of some new financial information,” said Coun. Ron Smith, who put forward the motion during Monday’s committee of the whole meeting. “I think its not only appropriate but fiscally responsible to do so in the interest of the public.”

The surplus was discovered by a financial consultant last October and is the result of accumulated unallocated funds from incomplete prior capital projects and other efficiencies found in previous operating/capital budgets that have been retained. Mayor Susan Johnston said that until recently council didn’t have the specific budget numbers to make an informed decision.

“We were all in the dark until we had some review of our financial position,” she added. “I personally caution the public to not think that this money can mean zero tax increases beyond this budget year. We will find ourselves in a sad situation if we do not at the very least meet the cost of living increase each year. We have some serious infrastructure to replace and repair and that money will dissipate quickly.”

Many of residents in attendance at Monday’s meeting see council’s decision as a step in the right direction for Hope.

“I am very happy to see that you’ve decided to go with the zero per cent tax increase. That was one of the major initiatives of our petition that we presented to you back in August,” said Ray Zervini, who spearheaded the petition last year. “The zero per cent sends out a good strong (message) that you are listening.”

The district projects an overall operating revenue of $10 million this year to cover $9.9 million in expenses. Capital project costs alone are anticipated to total $2.2 million. Coun. Scott Medlock raised some questions Monday night about specific line items in the budget, particularly $50,000 for a Memorial Park bandstand upgrade. Several councillors acknowledged the importance of investing in existing infrastructure and considering user group requests, but also the need to be prudent with finances.

Chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky confirmed that the remaining surplus will be the subject of forthcoming policy proposals for infrastructure re-investment and on-hand cash reserve levels in order to pay for upcoming capital improvements. It will also be used to buffer taxpayers from future increases.

Just Posted

Harrison Festival fundraiser dance to have ’70s theme and features Chilliwack band

Chilliwack band The Vacationers to perform at May 31 Harrison Festival Society’s fundraising concert

Seabird Island opens 50th annual festival

The weekend festival will see First Nations teams compete in soccer, three-pitch and canoe races

Lofty plans for Chilliwack school district revealed

Chilliwack school district draws up plan to add 2,900 student seats in five years

Agassiz study to look at drone use for pesticide application

The study will be the first in Canada to use drones to apply pesticides to farm fields

Chilliwack’s pediatric observation unit gets financial shot from trades workers

Unions and contractors donate more than $30,000 to Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation

Police say it’s “impressive” no arrests were made after Raptors celebrations

Toronto will play the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors next

Semis catch fire at wrecker off Highway 1 in west Abbotsford

Crews called to scene at around 2 p.m., finding up to six semis that had caught fire at the wrecker

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Most Read