It is now official. During its regular meeting held on Tuesday, March 1, Clearwater town council approved a 5.5 per cent municipal tax rate increase for 2016.
“The challenges we face locally with bringing a ‘newish’ municipality online and providing expected service levels is requiring the use of our surpluses and reserves faster than anticipated.” said councillor Dennis Greffard, the chair of town council’s finance and audit committee.
The increase equates to $23.06 per $100,000 of assessed value for a residential property or less than $2 per month. Governments in general face around a three per cent annual increase due to inflationary increases.
Water and sewer user fees and parcel taxes will remain status quo. All other fees for municipal services will be unchanged with the exception of user fees for Capostinsky Ball Park’s ball diamond and ice rental fees for the North Thompson Sportsplex’s arena, both of which will increase by 5.5 per cent.
District of Clearwater’s operating budget for 2016 is $3.38 million, its capital budget is $748,000 and the water and sewer budget is $526,000.
“Over the course of this next year the District council and staff will undertake a comprehensive review of the finances and operations of all departments for potential savings,” Greffard said. “As well we will be reviewing levels of service and expectations of the community in order to rebuild the use of our reserves.”
The Council developed the 2016 operating budget with the following directions to staff:
• Maintain existing service levels for roads, recreation programming, protective services, transit, and capital dollars for parks;
• Minimize use of surpluses and reserves;
• Continue to support economic growth within the community;
• Maintain the District’s financial principles – thorough short and long term planning through prudent consideration of reserves and leveraging available funding sources.
“The Council’s job is to find the best possible balance of services, costs and longterm planning,” noted Mayor John Harwood. “This budget ensures that we are able to continue to provide these important services for our citizens while working towards protecting our reserves.”