The loss of regional services is boding well for taxpayers in Montrose.
Although final approval on the $2.15 million budget is a few weeks away, it looks like the village of 1,100 will see a zero per cent increase in property taxes this year.
The loss of regional services, in particular the sale of the regional airport to the City of Trail and the end of an economic development agreement, has Montrose owing less dollars to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary this year.
That reduction offsets a three per cent increase (about $60) the village is imposing on taxpayers for upcoming infrastructure projects, leaving residents paying about $1570 on an average house assessment of $236,500.
On Tuesday night, Montrose council gave the first two readings to the financial plan bylaw, with a public meeting on the budget set for May 5, 6:30 p.m. as a prelude to council’s final vote on the matter.
The largest expenditure on the table, earmarks about $110,000 towards Montrose reservoir upgrades that include reinforcing the roof structures at the water storage sites.
“Now that we fixed our water, we have to make sure we can distribute it,” said Coun. Don Berriault, referring to the village’s $1.5 million dollar new water system completed last May, that includes a new well, pump house and chlorination facility.
After assessing the condition of village roads in 2013, Montrose is investing almost $50,000 this year to crack seal road surfaces, by redirecting $100 per taxpayer from a transportation parcel tax into a new road maintenance category.
“This is one thing that stands out in this year’s budget,” explained Kevin Chartres, Montrose’s chief administrative officer (CAO). “The road maintenance parcel tax will now fund a 10-year capital plan to work on our roads,” he explained. “What we are trying to do is maintain good and fair roads in the village.”
Since Montrose pulled out of a proposed regional liquid waste management plan last March, the village is allotting $83,500 to maintain and upgrade its current sewer system.
A recent Ministry of Environment (MOE) study reviewed the village’s compliance with its wastewater discharge permit and indicated a significant amount of discharge was bypassing a collector trench.
A geotechnical study is underway after the village installed boreholes to assess soil profiles of strata that control groundwater flow per MOE’s recommendation with ongoing testing required at the site effluent enters Beaver Creek.
Community related projects include a $10,000 upgrade to counter tops and cupboard doors in the Montrose Hall, new bleachers and playground equipment for $20,000 in the Montrose Park, and a new $8,000 lawnmower/tractor for the village’s public works.
A number of provincial planning grants are helping to balance the budget, such as a $5,000 for planning steps for asset management including infrastructure data collection; a $5,000 grant to assess the condition of asbestos cement water pipes and $5,000 from federal gas tax to improve general safety at the 9th Avenue bus route.