Among the proposed upcoming capital expenses for the City of Trail in 2018 is $500,000 to begin demolition of the Union Hotel. Guy Bertrand photo

Among the proposed upcoming capital expenses for the City of Trail in 2018 is $500,000 to begin demolition of the Union Hotel. Guy Bertrand photo

Trail forecasts 2018 capital spending

The City of Trail’s capital plan now accounts for 17.5 per cent of the total tax levy

After a few years of big ticket projects like the $8-million Trail Riverfront Centre and $15-million Columbia River Skywalk, in council’s fourth and final term, the budget is much more sedate.

At this point, 2018 capital funding from general revenue nears $2.5 million, which is up by $747,000 since 2014.

“Capital revenue is that amount that is allocated directly from annual property taxes and used to fund capital and infrastructure upgrades,” Chief Administrative Perehudoff explained. “This amount of direct revenue has been increased as noted and this provides more flexibility and capacity when this base funding forms part of the annual budget each year.”

The capital plan now accounts for 17.5 per cent of the total tax levy.

The Trail All Wheel Park eats up a $700,000 chunk of the respective budget, and this project ties up a significant strategic priority elected leaders set during their first term in office, back in 2016.

“The skate park is the high profile project for 2018,” Perehudoff confirmed. “Design work is well underway with the plan to have the park operational in late summer or early fall.”

Notably, the final cost to taxpayers will likely be less as the number doesn’t take into account existing grants or community contributions.

Other upcoming capital expenses include $500,000 to begin demolition of the Union Hotel, $256,000 for a new sweeper, $230,000 to develop parking across the street from the Riverfront Centre, and $235,000 for landscaping at the Trail airport. Another potential project, $1.25 million to replace the Trail Memorial Centre roof, is entirely contingent upon grant funding.

Regarding fixes to 67 kilometres of city-owned roads, council set aside $300,000 this year.

“As far as pavement restoration goes, the city implemented a system where the roads were surveyed, rated and inventoried,” Perehudoff clarified. “The condition assessment will dictate the order in which roads are improved and the five-year capital plan reflects that $1.9 million will be invested in road resurfacing and rebuilds.”

The bottom line for taxpayers is a 6.27 per cent increase, or about $72, for the average homeowner.

In all, the average residential property owner will pay approximately $2,000 in 2018 compared to $1,920 last year. This includes the $72 levy increase as well as incremental service costs for water, garbage and sewer.

These numbers are based on current home assessments which increased from $178,300 last year to $193,550 in 2018.

Property tax rates are referenced on the basis of a rate charged per $1000 of assessment. Additionally, Trail homeowners are subject to a parcel tax of $260.

The tax hike will cover the city’s $643,350 increase in expenses, primarily related to the new library/museum operations.

“This was a particularly challenging year when considering the increases associated with the Riverfront Centre and trying to come up with a balanced approach when considering cost increase in other operational areas as well,” Perehudoff told the Times.

Council’s focus is to consider the overall impacts as part of bringing forward a budget that is reasonable.

“Costs in other operational areas were held down to just over one per cent,” Perehudoff clarified. “So that the net increase in the budget this year was felt to be reasonable when considering the significant service enhancements not only at the Riverfront Centre but for other operational areas such as the airport.”

He noted, “A one per cent increase in the municipal property tax levy generates $132,800 in additional revenue.”

Due to Shaw Cable’s technical difficulties , Perehudoff was unable to publicly present the final budget during Monday council. However, the document is available on the city’s website.

“The purpose of (a) final presentation is to create further public awareness of key budget issues and indicators,” Perehudoff stated. “If there is any response, council may consider the public input prior to approving the budget through the bylaw process.”

The 2018 to 2022 Financial Plan Bylaw must be adopted by May 15 and this bylaw then becomes the governing document that provides the city with the legal authority to operate.

The 2018 budget involved the addition of a significant public facility that impacted both the operating costs and debenture debt costs, Perhudoff reiterated.

“The Riverfront Centre was a major consideration and had a very significant impact on the budget in 2018,” he added. “Council attempted to balance the Riverfront Centre funding increases by trying to implement reasonable constraints in other areas to mitigate the final impacts on the ratepayer.”

The Community Charter requires council to adopt a Financial Plan and Property Tax Rates bylaw no later than May 15 each year. In addition, while not prescriptive, there is a requirement to consult with the public before the financial plan and budget is adopted.

“When council reviews and approves the budget, they seek to establish the ‘equilibrium’ property tax requirement or the net tax revenue required to operate the city for the year,” Perehudoff concluded. “The budget must be fully funded and cannot legally include a deficit.”