Public invited to budget session

The public is invited to meet the Director of Finance at a public consultation session to discuss the Thompson-Nicola Regional District’s 2015-19 Five-Year Financial Plan.

TNRD offices are in Civic Building on Victoria Street.

TNRD offices are in Civic Building on Victoria Street.

The public consultation session will take place on Wednesday, March 25, between 10 a.m. and noon in the Board Room of the TNRD Building located in Kamloops. For those unable to attend, all of the information from the consultation session will be available online and feedback can be made through the online input form.

The TNRD Board will consider and adopt the financial plan at its regular board meeting on March 27. Board meetings are open to the public.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District provides more than 100 local government services to taxpayers, including fire protection, 911, land-use planning, solid waste management, water and sewer, regulatory services and invasive plant management as well as access for residents to libraries and recreation facilities.

The 2015 budget as it will be presented to the board includes a slight increase in taxation for Area P residents of about 2.32 per cent. On an average house price of $278,755, that’s $10.68.

Keep in mind that taxes vary from one community to another because they have different services. Some services such as fire protection are specific to a community, some are among certain areas, and some are based on the entire region.

I’d rather have seen a lower or zero tax increase but there are several reasons for this result, including assessments having grown more in Area P than in other areas in the TNRD except Kamloops. Area P is therefore responsible for a bigger piece of the total tax.

Another factor is that, before my time, federal gas tax funds were committed to the solid waste management service in order to bring down Area P taxes. A quote from the budget report explains:

“Area P will contribute $35,000 of gas tax to fund their share of the eligible capital costs in the Solid Waste Management service in 2015, which reduces tax requisition otherwise, specific to Area P. $100,000 of gas tax was contributed in 2013 and $65,000 in 2014, and this year’s contribution will finish out the expenses that were available.”

So, committing the federal money for that purpose brought down taxes in the short term but it can’t be sustained. As a result, and as I talked about during last fall’s election campaign, keeping a lid on taxes in the next few years will be challenging.

Visit the TNRD website at http://www.tnrd.ca for more information and to view the Board agendas and meeting schedules.

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