Greenwood taxes rise three per cent

Taxes will rise three per cent this year with a planning-based increase of two per cent every year for the next five years.

Greenwood city council released the 2016-17 city budget and five year financial plan on Tuesday. This year’s budget will see some tax increases and more work done in infrastructure and heritage building renewal. The city is projected to have a $44,472 surplus.

Taxes will rise three per cent this year with a planning-based increase of two per cent every year for the next five years.

Councillor Colleen Lang said the increases, though slight, are needed to help the city cover increased operational costs.

“The three per cent is needed because inflation is increasing, that’s why we need that cushion every year,” she said.

The city will bring in $513,197 in tax revenue, and expects another $503,000 in grants and $28,000 in grants for capital projects. Those numbers are expected to stay fairly constant over the next five years, but with an increase in capital projects grants in 2017 to $200,000.

Thirty-one per cent of overall revenue comes from property taxes, another 32 per cent from government grants, and 28 per cent from user fees and charges for residents.

According to the budget, the city is projecting a two per cent increase to user fees and charges in the coming years to cover increased operational costs.

This budget has been more detailed than budgets in past years, said acting chief administrative officer (CAO) Wendy Higashi, with items spread across more lines so the city has a better idea of what is being spent and where. She said the detail was in part due to the implementation of new software allowing the city to track streams of revenue in depth.

The city is expected to bring in additional money from the pool this summer, noting the lower than average revenue brought in last year was a result of the partial closure of the pool. The city recently signed a lease agreement with the Interior Health Authority for the basement of the medical centre, an added source of revenue.

Greenwood mayor Ed Smith said he is excited about the progress shown in this year’s budget.

“There is a lot of work to be done over time. We kind of slipped backwards, but we have to bring it up to date, bring in new infrastructure, and fix up,” Smith said. “If we plan a little very year, it will succeed. It’s the age of the infrastructure. Some of it has been around for a long time.”

Smith noted there would be work done on infrastructure and heritage preservation around the city this year, which he said is important to keep the city on track.

“We’re looking forward to, if we get a grant, moving forward on some of the infrastructure projects, mainly the sewer work,” he said. “We’re going to continue the work on the heritage fixing-up.”

Smith added city hall requires heritage work on the stained-glass windows on the second floor, which will be done through grants.

This year, budget consultation meetings were held once there was already a draft of the budget in place. Smith said to council this method, already practised in other cities, helps smooth the process by allowing residents to comment on a budget that isn’t constantly changing, while still allowing for input.

“The budget was passed in a timely fashion and the auditor is finished, that is great,” Smith said.

Smith also said increases to taxes won’t impact residents significantly, but the increased revenue makes a difference to the city.

“It shouldn’t impact them very much. We have $9,000 more of tax revenue, but that does not impact their taxes very much,” he said. “In some cases they won’t even see it.”

Higashi highlighted the need for residents to pay their outstanding taxes.

“We’re continuing to look at ways to save money in the city,” Higashi said. “Some residents owe money to the city, it’s over $200,000 and it would make it a lot easier to run the city [with that money]. That’s very important.”