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Municipal spending up in Gibsons

Municipal spending up in Gibsons

Gibsons’ staff are forecasting a just under one (0.8) percent increase in operating expenses in 2021 over the previous year’s spending levels. At a committee meeting on Feb. 23, a staff proposal for a two percent bump in 2021 property taxes to cover annual contract and inflation cost increases is to be discussed. That proposed tax adjustment would also create a $152,000 surplus. In her report to the committee, Director of Finance Lorraine Coughlin noted that surplus would be available for additional projects, for reserves, or to fund requests from external organizations at the will of council.
Staff have also proposed an increase of just under four percent to garbage/organics user fees in 2021. A staff proposed $8 increase would see the annual fee for that service go to $213 this year.
The garbage/organics user fee covers the costs of bi-weekly garbage and weekly organics collection. The Town is entering its third year with an organics collection program. Between 2019 and 2020, organics collection in Gibsons diverted 685 tonnes of organic matter. That reduced the weight volume of garbage sent by the Town to the Sechelt landfill by 43 percent.
The Town allows residents to opt-out of its organics waste collection service. Only three percent of the 2,300 eligible users in the service area have done so.
Residents cannot opt-out of garbage collection. Those who have chosen to receive only the garbage service will see their curbside collection fees go down in 2021. Staff are proposing a garbage-only collection service fee of $91 compared to the $135 charged in 2020. The lower fees are a result of garbage collection occurring every other week rather than weekly.
The “Gibsons Waste” app is available to the public and includes information on collection days, waste sorting, and how to report problems, such as a missed collection. Over one thousand households have used the app to sign up to have weekly collection day reminders sent to them.
That proposal on solid waste fees and a previously considered five percent increase in 2021 to both water and sewer fees for Town properties receiving those services are scheduled to be discussed at the committee meeting. If approved, the water fee increase will cost the average residential property $41 more than in 2020. The average single-family home on sewer would see annual fees for that service go up by about $32.
The 2021 budget taxation rates and any adjustments in fees require bylaw amendments to be enacted by council before mid-May.
Connie Jordison

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