There is potential good news for Rossland taxpayers.
Rossland council considered cuts to its proposed tax increase by 0.5 per cent following its review of the 2022-26 Five Year Financial Plan at its council meeting Feb. 7.
In an Oct. 18, 2021, meeting, council was faced with the implications of creating a Police Reserve Fund to prepare for the day the city reached 5,000 citizens and required its own police force or provide more funding for the current one.
Policing costs will increase from the current 30 per cent to 70 per cent of actual costs.
Council directed staff to add one per cent to the initial 2.5 per cent tax base, meaning a potential tax hike of 3.5 per cent for each of the next five years.
“We did agree to add a one per cent increase to be proactive when it comes to the police reserve budget, and I think we are all concerned,” said Coun. Andy Morel. “So that’s about 50,000 a year toward that reserve bill.”
Morel also noted that the city will take in an extra $126,000 in additional tax revenue for 2022, based on updated BC Assessment roll data from Dec. 3, 2021, that showed a $26.2 million increase in non-market change in the value of total assessments.
“I was thinking maybe we should, with that extra $126,000, use a portion of that and not increase our tax rate by a full point this year, and give a bit of a break to our community.”
City chief financial officer Mike Kennedy reminded council of the increasing costs of doing business, and that the extra tax funds could be used in other areas such as succession staffing and training when union contracts come due.
Chief administrative officer Bryan Teasdale also remarked that the 3.5 per cent increase was fair given the current uncertainty of the economy and inflation rate, but was also looking for direction from staff to finalize the Financial Plan before it’s due date in May.
“Looking at other communities there are a lot of double-digit numbers being discussed right now, and I still think that a two per cent increase for general operations activities and a one per cent on police tax, 3.5 per cent, is still reasonable.”
After more discussion, Coun. Terry Miller made a motion that council contribute 0.5 per cent to the policing reserve fund, for a total of three per cent tax increase. The motion passed unanimously.