Spallumcheen council approves tax hike

Spallumcheen residents can brace themselves for a 3.37 per cent increase in tax collection this year.

Spallumcheen residents can brace themselves for a 3.37 per cent increase in tax collection this year.

The chance to give council input on the proposed 2014 budget came and went Monday without a single resident attending the open public forum.

“All we can assume is that residents are happy with the way things are going,” said township Mayor Janice Brown, adding she was disappointed that nobody came out for the public input session.

When the township hosted an open forum on the planned implementation of development cost charges, council chambers was packed.

“At that meeting, we explained why we needed to do what we’re planning to do with the DCCs, that the budget only contains certain amounts of dollars to spend and that we are accountable for every dollar,” said Brown. “I would have thought some of those people would come to the budget meeting.”

If approved and passed by council, the proposed 3.37 per cent tax collection increase, which is for general and policing services for all tax classes, would equal nearly $140,000 being collected by the township in the first year of a five-year plan.

It would mean an increase of $6.06 for the average $250,000 township home.

Council had originally started off with a four per cent increase across the board for every year of the five-year plan, with the township still trying to catch up for small budget increases from 2008 to 2011, and for now having to pay for policing.

The five-year capital plan numbers can still be tweaked.

“The philosophy of council was to get the tax increase below four per cent,” said Brian Freeman-Marsh, chief financial officer.

“Regular small percentage increases over the long term are better than negligible increases and then a large jump.”

The biggest expenditures for 2014 are in capital programs and public works.

Capital expenditures are proposed at $2.6 million this year, up from $2.3 million in 2013. Public works budget plan for 2014 is $1.325, down from $1.354 in 2013.

However, that budget included $20,000-to-$30,000 in one-time operating expenses which are not included this year.

Freeman-Marsh will work on the joint programs budget with the City of Armstrong, and the results of that budget will be brought to a township committee of the whole meeting.

The township’s final budget for 2014 must be adopted by May 15.