QUESNEL, B.C. – City Council came one step closer to passing the 2006 budgetat the April 24 regular Council meeting.
The budget supports a significant number of initiatives that will enhance public service levels. Policing services will be boosted with the addition of another much needed RCMP officer. The upgrading of the Johnston Bridge with a new deck and support structure at a cost of $1,350,000 will soon be underway. The $3,000,000 Indoor Sports Complex which the City committed $1,000,000 in funding to, will be completed in May. Almost $800,000 is targeted for
infrastructure programs such as paving and for storm sewer enhancements. This is in addition to the $1,200,000 that has been approved by the Province to address the West Quesnel land stability issue. For the first time ever, a Capital Replacement Reserve has been established so that the City can accumulate funding for future major projects to replace aging infrastructure.
Mayor Nate Bello stated, “The City has a number of challenges such as West Quesnel land stability that we must deal with. We also have some huge opportunities open to us that can prepare Quesnel for our future in a very positive way. It is prudent to act now especially when significant sources of matching funding through grant programs are available to us.”
Mayor Nate Bello further stated, “City Council established a budget that addressed the identified needs of the community with the need to be fiscally responsible when our taxation rates were established. Even with the ambitious work program we have for 2006, City residents still enjoy lower tax rates than most other BC municipalities.”
On average, residents can expect a 6.2% increase in the municipal portion of their taxes. Expenditures will increase by 3.6% with higher energy costs accounting for a significant portion of this amount. Revenues from other city services such as permit fees and licenses are expected to decrease by 5% due to fewer large construction projects being planned. The budget is also impacted in 2006 with a one time $150,000 tax re-assessment approved that was beyond the control of the City. This represents 1.5% of the total tax increase.
According to Byron Johnson, City Director of Finance and Administration, “In combination with a reduction in school taxes and an increase in the Home Owner Grant, some residents may see a tax decrease in 2006. For example, the average single family residential property has increased in value from $92,140 in 2005 to $98,800 in 2006 according to BC Assessment. With our new tax rates, this resident would pay $14 less property tax in 2006, before the CT
Scanner Parcel Tax.”
Final reading for budget approval by City Council is expected on Monday May 1.