This is Revelstoke’s last full budget before our next municipal election.
Thinking about it took me back to this point 4 years ago when a group of like minded individuals (some of whom were elected) got together to brainstorm and recruit candidates for the election. We were all on the same page, the business tax to residential tax ratio was too high, municipal spending was out of control and we need to streamline the development process to increase our tax base. What happened to all this energy and great ideas? Although progress was made in rebalancing the residential to business tax ratio, it was done at the expenses of homeowners instead of cutting expenses. We are still looking at the same problems we had going into the last election, out of control spending and development approval problems.
There needs to be a critical review of Fire Department spending. Does the RFD justify the current levels of funding? A previous Council commissioned a report on the department and yet no action has been taken and expenditures continue to climb. The RFD is a sacred cow and two consecutive Councils haven’t had the intestinal fortitude to address it.
The Town of Revelstoke also duplicates some of the activities of the Chamber of Commerce, the North Columbia Environmental Society and Community Connections. Council should transfer a portion of their expenditures in these areas to their local counterparts that can provide these services more cost effectively.
Property tax increases continue to outpace the Consumer Price Index. For the last several years the CPI was just over 1% and yet this year residential property tax increases are proposed to be increased by 4.5%. Where are these unsustainable increases coming from every year? The increased tax base from major developments like RMR, Best Western, Ramada and Mackenzie Village should actually lower our taxes. They don’t add anything to the operational cost base and contribute to infrastructure costs through Development Cost Charges.
Municipal taxes are calculated by taking the total assessed property value and dividing it by the municipal expenditures. If we are getting a 4.5% tax increase on a higher tax base then the true increase in municipal spending is considerably higher than 4%. Wage increases are only 1%, where is the rest going? Even Town staff will be in the hole this year with a tax bill higher than their wage increase.
I haven’t even touched on the increases in Sewer and Water which is makes me wonder if it is apart of the Town’s hidden tax base.
We need to send a plumber ASAP to Town Hall because there must be a huge leak in the vault that is draining our tax dollars.
In my opinion.
Your Arm Chair Mayor,