Revelstoke property tax talks start at 5% residential, commercial increase

City of Revelstoke staff is requesting a 5% increase in commercial and residential taxes for 2019, but there are a series of additional requests that would bring the total 11%. The final 2019 tax rates will be determined during budget meetings in the coming months.

Revelstoke City Hall on Mackenzie Avenue. Photo: Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

City of Revelstoke staff has put forward a draft budget that would increase residential and commercial rates by 5%; however, those rates will change as council debates the proposed financial plan in the coming months. In addition to the core budget requests, the plan includes a list of requests for new staff and other items that totals an additional 6%, for a total of an 11% increase.

11%!? Before you draw your cutlass from its scabbard and light your hair on fire, remember that the draft budget is just that: an early draft. The final percentages will be worked out in the coming months through a number of city budget meetings. The city hopes to have a draft ready to present to the public by the end of February, and is targeting May 14 for the final adoption of the new financial plan.

City of Revelstoke history of tax increases, and the proposed 5% baseline increase for 2019. Image: City of Revelstoke budget document

Over the past 10 years, residential tax increases have averaged 3.9% for residential and 2.4% for commercial.

In December of 2018, city council approved 10% increases to both the water and sewer user rates, which are calculated separately from property taxes.

What’s new?

The draft budget includes a list of new asks by city staff that, if they were all approved, would mean an additional 6% in taxation, or a total of an 11% increase. The list includes several new staff positions:

-The city’s administration department is requesting a new “Communications & Engagement Officer,” at a cost of $101,250 annually.

-The city’s development department is asking for a new “Manager of Development Services” at a cost of $121,500 annually, and a new “Plan Checker” at a cost of $73,000 per year.

-The RCMP is asking for two new staff members, including a new sergeant position, and an new constable. Together, the cost would be about $251,000 annually. The police are also asking for a number of increases to victim services staffing, totaling about $56,000 annually.

-The city’s parks department has requested $50,000 annually to provide financial assistance to the Revelstoke Golf Club.

Major projects

More than any other document, the city’s budget places emphasis on immediate goals. There are many projects planned. Here are some of the highlights:

Development Services department

-The city is planning to undertake an Official Community Plan review and update in 2019, targeting completion in 2020.

-The zoning bylaw review is scheduled for 2019.

-The city is planning to amend its zoning bylaw as it relates to its short-term rental policy, scheduled for a completion in 2020.

-The city is continuing on the development of an affordable housing plan, which started in 2018, now with a target completion date of 2020.

Community Economic Development department

-Among several ongoing initiatives, the department is planning a wayfinding sign project

Parks department

-The Revelstoke Forum repair or replacement project is a major area of work for the department. Here, the draft budget proposes a comparative costs study on “future expenditures” on the repair or replace options; it’s unclear if that will proceed given the city’s recent application for a grant to replace the roof at the current rink.

-Landscaping work at the new skatepark is planned for the spring.

-Spash park construction is slated for the fall of 2019.

Capital projects

The city is eyeing a series of capital projects over the next five years. Here is a list of a few notable items:

-The city plans to complete the City Hall exterior renovation project in 2019. $835,000 is budgeted for the project.

-The Official Community Plan update is expected to cost $317,000.

-A total of $695,000 is budgeted for a new washroom building and reception building at Williamson’s Lake, although those plans are spread from 2019 to 2021.

-Stormwater upgrades total $2,630,000 between 2020–2023.

-A total of $7,224,000 is earmarked for new paving and patching of existing roads, spread out between 2019–2023.

-$260,000 is earmarked to upgrade the elevator at the Revelstoke Courthouse in 2019.

-The city is hoping to spend $13,637,000 on an upgrade to the sewage treatment plant in 2020, but that is contingent on almost $10 million in grant funding. The city applied for the grant in mid-2018, but hasn’t received word yet. It is one of several sewage upgrades planned, for a total of $15.5 million between now and 2023.

The mayor and council will receive a pay raise under the proposed budget (or as the report puts it, “Provision for increase in Council indemnities provided for in 2019,”) although the draft budget does not itemize exactly how much the raises will be.

Revelstoke’s city council will get their first chance to deliberate on the proposed financial plan this Thursday, Jan. 17 in council chambers starting at 3 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.

This story is a brief overview of the City of Revelstoke’s 129-page Draft Long-Term Financial Plan. See the document in its entirety here:

City of Revelstoke draft fi… by on Scribd