LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Development Cost Charges in Rossland
This letter will hopefully serve as a “wake-up call” to those citizens of Rossland who do not wish to see their taxes increased to pay for infrastructure for future development.
To refresh peoples memories, a Development Cost Charge (DCC) bylaw was introduced in Rossland in December 2004. It set the amount for a single family dwelling at $2,400. When there was a change in Council in December 2005, this amount was increased to $3,300.
A few residents repeatedly expressed their concerns to Council that the DCC amounts were inadequate for the extent of infrastructure upgrades identified by engineering consultants needed to service the amount of development approved in the OCP. The City took no action until early 2008 when a consultant, UMA…now AECOM was hired to review DCCs.
A draft report was issued by UMA (AECOM) on June 26th 2008. It includes a schedule of rates for different types of development and for two areas of the City, Red Mountain and the remainder (City/Redstone). This draft report recommended that the DCCs for a single-family dwelling should be increased from $3,300 to $14,921 at Red Mountain and $9703 for City/Redstone.
The consultant presented the report to developers and the proposed amount was reduced to $13,779 for Red Mountain and $8,624 for City/Redstone in a revised draft report. There was no public consultation and the report “sat on the shelf”. After raising the issue with a few Councillors in February, a public meeting was eventually scheduled for May 26th 2009.
This public consultation meeting was held as scheduled and was poorly attended by the general public with only 5 members of the public attending.
My main concern has always been that the existing DCCs were set too low. If they are not increased, taxpayers will have to pay the difference between the amount currently charged and the amount that has been recommended. This means that for every $3,300 paid by developers as a DCC, an additional $10,479 will have to be paid by taxes for every unit built at Red Mountain and $5,324 for every new unit built in the City or at Redstone. Note that this is in addition to about $4.9 million deemed to be the City’s portion of infrastructure upgrade projects totaling almost $12 million.
My perception is that a majority of Councillors are not in favour of increasing DCCs. I emphasize that this is a perception. The report, with the consultant’s recommendations, has sat on the shelf now for almost a year. If I were a betting man, I would bet that if a motion was made to council, right now, to increase DCCs, it would be defeated by a vote of 4 to 3.
The issue is should DCCs be increased in accordance with the recommendations of the expert consultant or should DCCs remain unchanged or eliminated altogether?
The DCC Best Practices Guidelines published by the BC Government mentions a few guiding principles including, beneficiary pays, fairness and equity.
In my opinion, it is unfair and inequitable for a large portion of infrastructure costs for future development to be subsidized by taxpayers who are not the main beneficiary.
I’ve no doubt that developers are actively lobbying councillors not to increase DCCs. If citizens remain silent, in my opinion, there is a high probability that DCCs will remain unchanged and taxpayers will pay for infrastructure upgrades for future development.
I urge all citizens who do not want to see their taxes increased and who support increasing DCCs as recommended by the expert consultant, to phone, write, or e-mail Rossland’s mayor and councillors to let them know your opinions.