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Siegers: Sechelt’s draft financial plan

Siegers: Sechelt’s draft financial plan

Thank you for your comments on the draft financial plan.  Council has also been reviewing it, along with your comments, and are now beginning deliberations. When we set a budget for the municipality we must consider maintaining our infrastructure, providing the services our citizens want, planning for growth and managing the tax rate.

We have both capital and operating budgets.  The proposed capital budget is $12 million.  These funds come mainly from grants and development cost charges with the remainder coming from reserves.  Capital spending is mostly used to maintain or expand our infrastructure.  We don’t want to have to replace a road or a building because we didn’t take good care of it. We are also looking to expand our sewer infrastructure to do away with the aging septic systems in the district. To build up our reserves, each year there will be a three per cent property tax increase set aside to manage and help pay our portion of the capital infrastructure. This is included in our draft budget.

Our operational budget pays for the day to day services we provide.  We asked staff to ensure the draft budget maintained the current service levels.  We try to balance the services citizens and tourists find attractive in our community, like parks, trails, the library and visitor centre with the taxes we collect.  We heard that citizens don’t want a tax increase yet if we want to maintain our services we have to keep up with cost increases. We also want tourists to come here and spend their money so we want Sechelt to be an attractive place to visit.  This helps support our local businesses.

Helping our local businesses to thrive is important to this council. Business and industry pay a higher tax rate than residential properties so they lessen the tax burden for our residential property owners. Our businesses employ our citizens who then support other businesses. Those services that we value are also important to our tourists who spend their money here, support our businesses, employ our citizens and contribute to our tax base…which provides those services. And the circle continues.

Finally, the part many of you care about, the tax increase. What is proposed right now is 11.81 per cent extra. That is approximately $171 more per year for the average residential property or $14.25 a month.  That is still a lot of money but we have some important work to do and that will take resources. Three per cent of that tax increase is for capital expenses as mentioned above but the rest is for our operating budget to maintain our services levels.

Again, thank you for sending us your comments over the last two months.  Now council will take our turn and ask questions and dig into each line of this budget to see where we can save money while doing what we can to provide and protect the services that are important to our community.

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