City of Armstrong targets modest tax increase

The City of Armstrong proposes to hold the line on taxes for businesses.

The City of Armstrong proposes to hold the line on taxes for businesses.

A five-year plan presented by chief financial officer Terry Martens shows a 2.4 per cent tax increase for residents in 2012 ($10.75 per house based on average assessed residential property of $299,000).

Light industrial and commercial ventures would see no tax increase under the plan.

“There would be no increase for light industrial and commercial as we want to try and help them recover from the recession,” said Martens during his 17-minute presentation to council Monday night.

“This is not set in stone. No bylaw has been adopted yet.”

Water and sewer fees would remain unchanged if the plan is passed.

Residential garbage fees would decrease nearly $20 from $94.30 to $75.05 thanks to a new contract with the provider, but the residential blue bag fee would increase $1.33 from $18 to $19.33 because of increases passed on by the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Projects on the books for 2012 include $683,000 for the installation of residential water meters which Martens said 40 per cent would be funded by grants and 60 per cent from reserves.

Public works equipment replacement would cost $300,000 while another $163,000 would be spent on Smith Drive streetlight replacements. Both projects would be funded from reserves.

The city hopes to spend $50,000 from federal gas tax funds to complete its water master plan, the document that will help the city plan its water system and gauge the ability of the system to meet anticipated growth.

Another $40,000 from sewer revenue would be used to fund a sewer treatment plant relocation study.

“The study would look at the ability of our current facility on Adair Street to continue to handle the needs of the community,” said Martens.

Because communities must submit five-year financial plans to the government, Martens’ report also contains some longterm projects, including a $946,000 complete reconstruction of Colony Street in 2013, identified by the city’s engineering firm as the top priority.

Martens’ proposed budget would bring in $62,700 in additional tax revenue in 2012; $32,700 from new construction and $30,000 from the tax increase.

“It’s a pretty low tax increase for this year, 2.4 per cent for residential. The cost of living has gone up at least that high,” said Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper.

“This budget does recognize the economy in that commercial and light industrial is at zero per cent, so we’re holding the line for them.”

Coun. John Trainor, chairperson of the city’s finance committee, called the budget a “good news document.”

“We’ve seen some pretty trying times and the city has been able to maintain and improve services,” said Trainor.

“And to do so without a major hit to the taxpayers’ wallet.”

Two special public meetings on the budget will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 30 and Monday, May 7.

The first will give three readings on the bylaw, the second is the final adoption of the five-year financial plan bylaw.