Council (briefly) considers increasing 'staff appreciation' budget by 500% while discussing ways to save money
The Tax situation in Rossland (if you already know it all, you can skip this part):
Rossland City Council has been struggling to keep our city taxes low, to partially make up for increasing levels of School and Regional District taxation that Rossland residents must also pay as part of our property taxes.
Rossland does not have any large industrial contributors to our tax base — Trail has the Teck smelter and fertilizer plant, and Castlegar has the Celgar pulp mill. We have nothing like that, so Rossland must pay for all our services from our relatively small residential and commercial tax base. That means unavoidably higher taxes to maintain our aging infrastructure, to store, treat and deliver water from three small separate creeks, keep our streets relatively clear of snow all winter, sweep grit off them in the spring, maintain parks and playing fields, have trash and yard waste collected, pay for sewage service, subsidize recreational facilities, pay interest on money the City has borrowed for major projects, give grants to community non-profits, and much more. This list is very incomplete.
Some residents complain about our property taxes; others consider them a small price to pay to live in a community with Rossland’s advantages: the compact, walk-able layout, our trails, a community garden, ready access to the great outdoors for biking, hiking, skiing and snowshoeing, our arts and cultural activities, access to golf and disc golf — and our cooler summertime temperatures.
Following the regular Council meeting on Tuesday, Council held a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting on Wednesday, February 12, for budget discussions, for just over two hours.
What is Staff Appreciation worth?
The evening’s focus was on various ways of trimming expenses and possibly bringing in more revenue, and Council discussed the pros and cons of many possibilities until Councillor Blomme noticed a budget item for “Staff Appreciation” at $1000 for the year. Blomme objected that this amount was “crazy low” and enumerated the advantages of staff appreciation, such as improved morale, a positive attitude, and better efficiency.
Acting Mayor Cary Fisher suggested that she could make a motion, and other discussion on budget-trimming ideas continued. Eventually, Blomme made a motion to recommend that the Staff Appreciation budget be increased to $5000. She argued that $5000 is “a slim amount” for something that could include partners. Spearn and Moore both found the goals laudable, but the amount proposed too high. Fisher said he felt it would be “irresponsible” to increase the Staff Appreciation budget by 500% given what Council is trying to accomplish with the budget and the amounts by which City is reducing the operating grants for various non-profits this year. The motion failed.
And Council continued deliberating on how to reduce expenditures until the Acting Mayor adjourned the meeting.