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LETTER: Council passes buck, drops ball on DCCs?

Dear editor,

Rossland taxpayers should be justifiably upset to learn that Council has deferred any action on Development Cost Charges (DCCs) until 2011. They should not be surprised that the Mayor supports this, since he was a councilor, and subsequently Mayor, of the Council that set Development Cost Charges (DCCs) at a ridiculously low amount in 2004, to the benefit of developers. However, it is disappointing that some of the other Councilors voted to shelve DCCs until 2011, as this was one of the platform issues they were elected to resolve.

The reasons given for shelving DCCs are not very credible and don’t hold water. Reportedly, Council needs to receive an infrastructure assessment report. Give us a break! Taxpayers have already paid for about a dozen engineering consultants report dealing with the infrastructure needed to support development and its costs.

The expert consultant who prepared the DCC report more than two years ago was able to use existing infrastructure reports to list over twenty projects to be included in DCCs, so why the need to delay for yet another infrastructure report?

Another reason given is that council needs to receive the 2011 – 2015 Financial Plan. Since DCCs are based on a twenty-year period, why is it necessary delay dealing with DCCs until the 2011 – 2015 financial plan bylaw is received? Logically, capital projects identified in the 20-year DCC capital project list should flow into the five year plan, not the other way around. This excuse doesn’t make any sense!

DCCs are based on a projected rate of growth over a 20-year time frame and should not be unduly influenced by swings in the economy and housing market. Although there may be a downturn now, this should not be an excuse for not resolving DCCs. Each new unit built means that more taxes will be needed in the future to pay for the required infrastructure. This means essentially a taxpayer subsidy of about $10,479 for a single-family dwelling, for example. That’s the difference between the amount recommended by the expert consultant two years ago ($13,779), and the current amount paid, established by the previous council ($3300).

The Mayor reportedly talks about balancing the needs of taxpayers and opening the city to a climate of pro-development. Delaying the DCC issue does nothing for the taxpayer except lead to an increase in taxes to subsidize development infrastructure. It also means that the situation is unclear for prospective developers since someone has to pay for the $7 million infrastructure projects identified in the two year old report. That amount does not include capital needed to upgrade the regional sewage system…yet another issue that’s been put ‘on the shelf’!

Uncertainty doesn’t lead to a climate of pro-development.

The DCC issue is long overdue for resolution. It’s been a contentious issue for over five years. It’s two years since the expert consultant’s report recommending significant increases in DCCs. It’s over a year since there was a public meeting. Delaying action for yet another year and adding DCCs to the growing list of unresolved issues is unacceptable and doesn’t help anyone, neither taxpayers nor developers.

Ken Holmes,

Rossland