Clearwater holds public meeting for financial plan

It’s hoped that the plan will be approved by council in late March or early April

On Jan. 21, the Clearwater District Council held a public meeting for the community’s input on their five-year budget plan. The hope is that the plan will be approved by council in late March or early April.

Only 56 per cent of Clearwater resident’s 2019 tax bill went to the district, which is collected for many different organizations; municipal finance authority, Thompson-Nicola Regional District, school tax, police tax, BC assessments.

In 2019, the district collected $2.445 million in municipal taxes, $492,000 for the TNRD, $918,000 for school tax, $170,000 for the regional hospital district and $130,000 in police tax.

Of those taxes collected; 54 per cent ($1.328 million) were residential taxes, next was business taxes with 25 per cent ($606,000), then utility was $398,000. Taxes collected from other industries, such as farming (0.98 per cent), were minuscule compared to the top three.

Most of the tax dollars collected were spent on roads, where 38 per cent of the budget was used. Following was fire protection (13 per cent), general government (11 per cent), community parks (eight per cent), protective services (three per cent), transit (three per cent), recreation and events (two per cent), and cemetery (one per cent).

The district manages about 72 kilometres of roads; 14.8 of arterial (high capacity urban roads), 16 of collecter, 33 of local paved roads and 4.6 of local gravel roads. The road budget includes lighting, winter and summer maintenance, sidewalks, pathways, bridges, catch basins, and signage.

In the new 2020 financial plan, the district plans to raise the roads budget to $250,000 from $100,000. The extra $150,000 is coming from the gas tax, with the council saying they got the additional money last year.

They also did a survey last year, asking residents what they would like to see the district spend money on and the number one answer was roads.

One of the district’s capital projects in 2019 was to replace a condenser in the North Thompson Sports Complex – a shared service with the TNRD. It was completed with a total budget of $328,000.

Proposed capital projects for 2020 are paving the west parking lot for $43,000, and putting in backflow preventers and three water metres into the building for $11,770.

If the paving doesn’t go forward, the money would either go into reserve or a different project.

As for general government services (legislative council, corporate services, finance department, property taxes, payroll, ICBC and motor vehicles, etc.), the proposed capital projects will total $33,000. One project is to replace the phone system for $9,000, fixed asset software for $7,000 and upgrading the firewalls and access points for $12,000.

The last one comes off the back of being targeted for cyber attacks. The project would include the fire hall, the North Thompson Sportsplex, the Dutch Lake Community Centre and council office because they all connect into the district’s system.

A capital project for fire protection includes grant-dependant thermal imagery camera and gas detector for $2500 and turnout gear for $1200 and a trailer for $8,000.

The district is also working on a community wildfire prevention plan.

Several other capital projects were proposed for community parks, recreation and events and the other services budgeted by the district and can be viewed at the District of Clearwater’s website.

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