Keremeos council votes for 5% property tax increase

After some debate council unanimously voted in favour of a 5% increase in village property taxes

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After some debate council unanimously voted in favour of a 5% increase in village property taxes.

The tax increase on the average home in Keremeos assessed at $208,000 will equal roughly $38 annually or an

additional $3 a month on what property owners are already paying.

Novice councillor Jason Wiebe was quick to point out during conversations before the vote that with other anticipated increases with the Regional District, Interior Health and possibly school board ratepayers are looking at an almost 25 %

increase.

“People are going to freak out about that. I know that most of that isn’t us but they don’t understand that. Maybe we could do a 3 % this year and then a 5 % next year,”

he said.

Laurie Taylor, CAO for the village,

explained putting of the increase would just delay the inevitable.

“We are getting further and further behind and if we keep putting it off we’re just looking at an even larger increase,” she said. “Unfortunately this makes it tough

for politicians.”

Rob Hager, the village Chief Financial Officer said the reason for the larger than normal increase was to ensure enough taxes were being collected to complete projects

outlined in the strategic plan.

“We know this is significant for residents. We recognize that but if we don’t we will deplete

reserves,” he said.

Without the increase over the next several years the village would be out approximately $100,000 in

reserve funds for capital funding projects.

“We’ve been looking at five-year business plan relatively closely during this process. We think this

will be a one-time increase,” Hager said.

The last significant increase occurred

in 2012 when the previous council voted to increase taxes by 3%.

“The staff is giving us the reality and you have to decide whether you want to be liked or not liked,” Mayor Manfred Bauer said to council members before the vote. “Raising

taxes is never popular.”

Eventually all council members agreed

to raise taxes by 5 %.

“I’m OK with 5%. It’s either pay me now

or pay me later,” councillor Arlene Arlow said moments before the vote.

A few adjustments are required for the

budget before it is finalized.

Included in small capital projects this year is a new alarm system for the Visitor Centre for $6,760; playground impact material $3,800; stone trash receptacles and planters, $3,800; pole mounted banners $6,000; pole mounted Christmas lights, $7,000; village square pole replacement, $6,900; energy efficient audit, $3,600; waste water treatment plant $4,600; upgrades to Victory Hall flooring, $3,500; Geo Tech Services on roads to improve budget forecasting, $10,000; winter sand supply, $12,500; accessible door opener for the Visitor Information Centre, $3,000 and

Accessible washroom door at Victory Hall, $3,000.

The village will receive a variety of grants from government and other sources for large capital projects

expected complete in the next year.

The list of large projects includes sewer lift station upgrades, $96,000; road rehabilitation for 4th Street between 12th and 11th Avenue, $99,307 and on 10 th Avenue between Boundary Road and 1 st Street, $40,845; design water main project, $13,420; wastewater treatment plant physical condition assessment, $30,000; pump replacement in main pumping station, $12,000; resurface three blocks of dirt road with recycled asphalt, $29,456; recycle waste concrete, $11,200; wastewater treatment plant rebuilding headworks, $20,000 and waste water treatment plant treatment sludge pump, $25,000.

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