Parks tax may climb 9.8 per cent

Lumby and Cherryville residents could be hit hard over parks, recreation and culture.

Lumby and Cherryville residents could be hit hard over parks, recreation and culture.

The White Valley Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee is preparing its 2015 budget and a 9.8 per cent tax increase is proposed.

“We did everything we could to hold the line to maintain services,” said Tannis Nelson, community development co-ordinator.

The possibility of an almost 10 per cent tax hike arose because of a decision years ago by Coldstream to remove Lavington from the White Valley parks service and put it into the Greater Vernon function. The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee paid $114,000 a year to cover Lavington’s portion of existing debt load with White Valley but that agreement is now completed.

The shortfall of $114,000 has been reduced to $77,000 through contracts for maintenance and other services being frozen and provincial Community Works funds covering capital projects.

If the 9.8 per cent tax increase proceeds, it could amount to an additional $33 per house in Lumby (figures for Cherryville and rural Lumby have not been determined).

“We will continue to evaluate that but at some point, we have to bite the bullet. It could possibly be spread over two years,” said Rick Fairbairn, chairperson.

Other than raising taxes, Fairbairn says there are  limited options to handle the shortfall.

“We could close a facility but we’re responding to what the community wants (for activities),” he said.

To prepare for the end of Lavington’s debt contribution,  WVPRCAC has initiated tax increases of four to five per cent in recent years to bolster reserves and soften the financial impact.

“Over the years, we have also received $900,000 in federal and provincial grants and without them, we would have dealt with a severe situation and possibily closed facilities,” said Fairbairn.