Report highlights spending habits of region’s municipalities

The Top 10 spending control communities include Fruitvale, Salmo, Kaslo, Rossland, Montrose, Warfield, Castlegar.

For many Canadians, July 2 could be seen as doomsday for their bank account.

That’s the day property taxes are due, and year after year, the bill keeps going up and up.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) backs the costly trend in a new report that notes overall, there’s been a 55 per cent increase in B.C.’s municipal operating spending in the last dozen years.

Increases could be due to variety of factors, such as infrastructure upgrades to sewer and water.

That might not sound too exciting, but a spending watch is crucial because, in the end, those costs trickle down to the taxpayer.

The study examined 151 B.C. municipalities and ranked how well each community stacks up on spending.

Lower Columbia taxpayers seem to have it better than most in the province.

According to CFIB’s BC Municipal Spending Watch 2014, four communities ranked at the top, and one city in the middle, for their spending-control practices.

The CFIB report, which was released this week, lumps the West and East Kootenay together alongside the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. The Top 10 spending control communities in order are, Fruitvale, Salmo, Kaslo, Rossland, Montrose, Creston, 100 Mile House, Warfield, Castlegar, and Quesnel.

The City of Trail was number 13 on the list of 28 in the region, Nelson, 19th and Silverton bottomed out as the worst ranked municipality in the region and the third worst in the province.

It’s important to note that the overall rank factored in two equally-weighted indicators: the percentage growth in operating spending over the past 12 years (2000-2012) adjusted for inflation and population; and the 2012 operating spending per capita.

Also, the results aren’t exactly black and white.

Though Fruitvale ranked first locally with a $731 per capita operating spending in 2012 and fourth best provincially; the report outlines, taking into account population growth, the village’s 25 per cent increase in operating spending since 2000.

Montrose numbers show a 30 per cent increase in spending over 12 years, however the village was fourth best regionally, with $985 spent per capita in 2012.

Ranked seventh on the best-of Kootenay list is Warfield, with $1,059 spent per capita in 2012. Worth noting is that the village’s increase in operating spending since 2000, stands at 43 per cent.

Most interesting is Rossland. The spending watch lists Rossland as the third ranked Kootenay community with the best operating spending in 2012, or $1,354 per capita. Additionally, the city is ranked 10th best in the province. However, Rossland’s percentage increase in spending over 12 years is actually in the black, at minus-1 per cent. That’s the only Kootenay municipality that decreased its spending per capita growth since 2000, according to the report.

Another point is that on the best-to-worst list, Trail ranks 13th in the Kootenay area and 71st in the province. The city’s per capita spending in 2012 was $1,819. It’s important to note, however, that the city’s increase in per capita operating spending stood at 18 per cent over 12 years.

Nelson, on the other hand, is listed as 19th in the Kootenay area, and number 120 from best-to-worst on the list of 151 B.C. municipalities, spending $2,870 per capita in 2012.

However, overall the Queen City’s increase in operating spending per capita growth in 12 years, is noted as 11 per cent.

On average, municipalities within the Kootenay Rockies had the lowest real operating spending growth per capita, with Rossland and 100 Mile House the only municipalities the reports says has kept spending in line with population and inflation growth over the past 12 years.

Silverton is the worst ranked municipality in the region and the third worst in the province, according to the CFIB report.

Along with having a high operating spending per capita, or $3,483, the village has the region’s largest increase, 131 per cent in real operating spending per capita from 2000 to 2012.

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