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

Experts detect risk of rock avalanche above Bridal Falls near Chilliwack

Risk in the one-in-10,000-year is minimal but triggers FVRD to direct growth elsewhere

Auditors couldn’t tell if Fraser Health executives bought booze on taxpayers’ dime

Review from 2014 says one administrator bought Bose headphones on company credit card

VIDEO: Olympic medalist teaches swimming in Hope

Brent Hayden fondly remembers local swim meet from his youth

Free parking not in the cards for Fraser Valley hospitals

Chair says board may look at ways to make parking easier, but not free

VIDEO: LEGO fundraiser builds playground purse

Inspired families built LEGO creations, helped Silver Creek build playground

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Golden Knights win 4-1, remain undefeated against Canucks

Vegas gets points from 12 players in dominating effort versus Vancouver

Alberta budget plans for Trans Mountain expansion

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says expected revenues will be factored into budget forecasts

Langley City hits up province for share of pot revenue

The province says it understands municipalities will face extra costs when marijuana is legalized.

B.C. climber remembered for gentle spirit, love of mountains

Marc-André Leclerc had been hearing the call of the mountains since childhood

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Most Read