Today’s Poll

City's seeks input on proposed 2 percent tax increase in 2015 budget

Colin Payne
By Colin Payne
March 9th, 2015

Late last week the City of Nelson unveiled its proposed $40 million 2015 budget that would include a 2 percent tax increase, with the hope that Nelson residents will provide input before the budget is finalized.

According to a press release issued by the City, the 2 percent increase accounts for only the cost of inflation and when combined with in-house cost savings by staff, will allow the city to continue providing the wide range of services is currently does.

“We’ve implemented a number of new programs that have generated new cash flow and held costs on critical services like sewer, water and electrical rates,” said Mayor Deb Kozak in the press release.

“The City of Nelson provides an amazing number of services for its size, and council endeavours to do it all at a reasonable cost,” she added. “Earlier this year, senior staff made it their primary goal to ensure the City of Nelson offered the best service-for-taxation value of any municipality in Canada.”

To break down the tax bump for you, the owner of a $320,000 residential property would have to pay an additional $2.34 in taxes per month – or about $28 per year. In turn, the city will generate and additional $150,000 in general taxation revenues.

Along with the additional taxation, the city has been able to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of savings by taking advantage of various available programs, while using its resources effectively and finding efficiencies within its operations.

Examples include: tackling engineering work in-house, instead of contracting out; re-lining many sewer pipes, instead of replacing them; and generating $80,000 in revenue from the city’s new fibre optic network.
The release notes that the recently approved Stores To Shores project is being paid for via a combination of reserves and grants, with none of the additional tax dollars going toward it.

“Local governments are limited in how they can raise money,” Kozak told The Nelson Daily. “The main source is through taxation. But over the years we have had many enterprising staff members and councilors who have stepped forward and said we can’t rely on taxpayers to pay for all the services we have.”

City seeks community input at budget open house

On March 12, the City of Nelson is offering citizens the chance to come out and have their say on the budget – and the mayor is really hoping residents will heed the call.

“We don’t want to move forward without the public’s awareness and approval,” Kozak said. “We need you all to come out . . .

“When most people think about going out for an evening, they don’t usually think about attending the city’s annual budget presentation, but I’m hoping they will. It’s an interesting evening where you can learn where your hard-earned tax dollars are spent.”

Kozak noted that historically these presentations have not been well attended, but she hopes that will change in the future.

“I think it’s important for people to give us feedback. As taxpayers and as people who use services, I think it’s important council hears what people have to say.

The 2015 Budget Open House happens on March 12 at the Nelson Library. Staff will be available to answer questions from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a formal presentation happening at 7 p.m.

Categories: GeneralPolitics


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