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Building capital reserves a priority as Pemberton's 2012 budget finalized

Residents get four per cent hike in tax bill

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Pemberton Council has passed its 2012 budget with an eye on the future.

Residents will see a four per cent hike in the general residential tax bill and a three per cent rise for water and sewage. The rates, two per cent over inflation, are to help increase the permanent capital fund for future purchases and projects for the community, said Pemberton's mayor Jordan Sturdy.

The budget passed unanimously at a special meeting of the council on May 7, a week before the B.C. government's May 14 deadline. A public hearing on the budget was held on May 1.

"It was a culmination of about four months' worth of work, recognizing the ongoing challenges that this community has in terms of the revenues side and the expansion side, especially with regards to the development of capital reserves," he said.

A healthy capital budget will allow the council "to fund infrastructure opportunities as they come forward, as well as other opportunities when matching funds are available."

General municipal residential, farm and rec/non-profit tax rates (excluding sewage and water) will be 2.2569 per $1,000 of taxable value of the property. For a property assessed at $350,000, this means a tax bill of $789.92.

In terms of sewer and water rates, the 2012 annual sewer rates for single family dwellings, including apartments, duplexes and multi-family dwellings will be $454.24; the amount for water rates is $342.99. Properties at seniors' housing projects will be charged $297.74; the amount for water rates is $225.09.

Sturdy said building the capital fund alongside covering essential services to the community was a priority. He described the current status of the fund as "limited."

"There are a number of different funds. Some are statutory, some are discretionary, I think, generally speaking, it's a very limited series of funds," Sturdy said.

By building it up now, he added, the village will be able to bid for matching-funding projects from other levels of government, or for capital equipment purchases.

"Without reserves, without money in the bank there is the possibility that opportunities pass us by. We need to build these reserves," he said.

The budget allows the Village to keep up with inflation, Sturdy added.

"Essentially, we are going to put a per cent or a little more than a per cent into our reserves. This is not going to be something that could change our financial services overnight, but it is something that incrementally and philosophically we are committed to," he said.

Councillor Ted Craddock, who worked on the budget committee, said it was the least painful option to support the growth of Pemberton.

"The council and mayor wanted to make sure we built up our reserves," he said. "(To make large-scale purchases) over X number of years we have to save for it or we have to pay for it and the council would have to pay more, so we're hoping this won't hurt so bad."

And the biggest challenge in formulating the 2012 budget?

"There is never enough time, money or people," Sturdy said.

"It's just the reality of things; we have a small organization that tries to accomplish a tremendous amount."

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