Council briefs: City rethinks water rates, rejects revenue hike through property tax

Erin Handy
By Erin Handy
March 17th, 2011

As with many municipalities, Rossland’s looming list of future infrastructure needs is long and painful. But the global recession of recent years has been no less so; and so, with an eye on the rearview, City Council elected Monday to avoid raising additional property tax revenue this year.
“There’s a considerable amount of future expense, but the community is still suffering from recession. There’s no rebound yet,” said councillor Kathy Wallace at the March 7 Committee of the Whole meeting where taxation options were first discussed. “I don’t feel that this is the year to start a massive reserve campaign.”
While at least some existing reserve funds will be required to address infrastruture needs ranging from reservoir fixes, to arena improvements, Miners’ Hall upgrades and, of course, the likely road/water/sewer work in the downtown core, many potential projects may have to wait.   
The City will raise approximately $3.547 million this year through basic property taxation, the same amount as in 2010 plus an additional $30,000 from new construction.
The province’s assessment of the value of all types of property in Rossland fell 4.73 per cent from 2010, and the average single family home is now worth $248,000 versus last year’s $261,000. At the new residential rate of $6.1620 per $1000 of assessed value, that average Rossland household comes out about even.  
“We’re walking a fine line here in Rossland with regard to taxes and affordability,” said councillor Jill Spearn, who voted for the 0% increase.
Bylaw #2502 passed with councillor Laurie Charlton opposed. It sets municipal property tax rates (per $1,000 of assessed value) at $6.1624 for the residential and non-profit classes, $34.6943 for utilities, $18.4872 for light industry, and $10.5377 for business and commercial.
The cost of the popular, but not optional, spring and fall yard and garden waste cleanup service provided by the City will rise $16.50 to $29.25 per household per year, in addition to the basic $55 per household annually for waste collection. The overall annual cost of waste collection in 2011 is now $84.25 per household.
A new water pricing option provided by city staff made conservationist councillors Kathy Moore and Hanne Smith much happier on Monday. (Please see this previous Telegraph story for the March 7 proposal).
Water users without meters will pay a flat fee of $387 in 2011. That’s an increase from $357 in 2010, but those ratepayers will be eligible for a reduction in that fixed cost from $387 to $201 when a meter is installed. December 31, 2011 is the deadline, set by the City three years ago, to have water meters installed.
Those already on meters will pay an annual $201, a contribution toward the sizable fixed cost of water service, plus per cubic metre rates of $0.25 for usage below 30 monthly m³, $0.40 per m³ for monthly usage between 31-100 m³ and $0.60 per m³ for usage above 101 monthly m³. The latter category sees no increase over 2010, the former two see a $0.05 per cubic metre increase.  
“This is a large improvement over what we discussed last time,” said councillor Hanne Smith, crediting administrator Victor Kumar for taking her and councillor Moore’s concerns over the disappearing 2010 pricing incentive for early water meter adopters seriously.
The initial recommendation for the lowest per m³ (0-30 m³ monthly) bracket was $0.52 per m³.  
“It’s an appropriate last-year transition before we get into a full metering program next year.”

Categories: Politics

Other News Stories