City budget explained to 5 whole taxpayers! A "Rossland Rumour"! And 21 groups will get some money.
On April 2, the City announced that there will be a 7% increase in Rossland property taxes this year. And on April 7, Council met again to hear from applicants for funding from Columbia Basin Trust (“CBT”) Community Initiatives program. Read on for more details …
April 2, 2014: Public Hearing on the Budget
Mayor Granstrom and Councillors Kathy Moore and Kathy Wallace, assisted by Acting CAO Tracey Butler, Acting CFO Lois Hunter, and Manager of Public Works Darrin Albo, presented the outline of the City’s Financial Plan for 2014 to 2018 to an interested audience of 5 residents. They announced the planned 7% tax increase, and showed that it will mean an increase of $114 for the average ($255,000) home. The increase is to pay for the $4million loan for our Columbia Washington Upgrade: annual debt/interest payments of $241,320 for 30 years.
Garbage rateswill decrease from $84.25 to $79.14 for 2014. The garbage contractor had not had an increase in 5 years, so he and the City negotiated one; then the City reduced its own expenses by eliminating the fall yard waste clean-up, which enabled the City to charge residents less for garbage pick-up. So get your yard waste out for the Spring clean-up — April 28 for lower Rossland (South of Columbia Avenue), and May 5 for upper Rossland (North of Columbia Avenue).
Water metering: Rossland has 1725 water accounts, and of those, only 4 have not yet picked up water meters — but there are still 46 still not installed and inspected. In 2014, the City will review water and sewer rates, with the help of a consultant — whose time will be 2/3 paid for by CBT.
Council shaved expenses by reducing Community Support by a total of $31,580.
Resort Municipality Initiative(“RMI”): Rossland now qualifies to receive 2% of the Resort Municipality Development Tax revenue generated here — up from 1% previously. The difference? Rossland now has over 450 accommodation “units” registered with “Destination BC.” The RMI funds go to the City, but must be used for projects that serve tourism in Rossland — such as the Visitors’ Centre, signage, the Free Bus, and subsidizing the Spokane Shuttle. The Spokane Shuttle enables people to get here from the Spokane airport without a car, and the Free Bus enables them (and everyone else) to get around once they’re here.
Darrin Albo explained the City’s planned capital projects for the year, and the 5 residents asked questions on various topics. One question was about Tourism Rossland’s March board meeting, which was referred to in the message announcing it as a “pub crawl” with transportation via the Free Bus and stops at the Flying Steamshovel, the Rock Cut Pub, and Rafters; the message stated, “food and drink will be supplied by Tourism Rossland.” The citizen objected to having Tourism Rossland funds spent on board members’ food and drink, and said it made for “very bad optics.” Your reporter became curious, and after the meeting, began asking questions about this “Rossland Rumour”. Deanne Steven, of Tourism Rossland, explained that all the costs of food and beverages at the three pubs had been covered by Red Mountain (for Rafters and the Rock Cut), and by the Flying Steamshovel, and Tourism Rossland had merely arranged for that to happen.
Strolling home after this session, your reporter appreciated the beauty of the bright crescent moon, with the shaded side of the moon visible by earth-light.
April 7th: At a Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, a bare quorum of Council (Mayor Granstrom, and Councillors Kathy Moore, Kathy Wallace, and Tim Thatcher) heard 2-minute oral submissions from groups that had already made written submissions through the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for funding from the CBT Community Initiatives program. Council members had already studied the written applications, then heard submissions, then decided what amounts to recommend for each applicant. As always, the total amount of funding applied for exceeded the total amount available, so no group will receive all the funding it wanted. Each council member expressed his or her opinion about how much each group should receive, then those amounts were averaged, and all available funds allocated. Granstrom thanked Moore for her work in preparing the spreadsheet to do that job. To mention just a few of the grants — unless Council changes its mind when making the decisions based on the recommendations made at this meeting, Black Jack will receive $3,025 for fixing some trail lights and improving signage, along with other improvements; Friends of the Rossland Range will receive a contribution of $875 toward the costs of creating a Recreation Site Master Plan, including the public meetings for it; Golden City Manor Society will receive $3,875 for a gazebo; Red Mountain Racers will receive $6,625 toward the replacement of worn-out equipment; Rossland Public Library Association will receive $9,204 toward an “early literacy station”; and the Rossland Fall Fair will have $1,750 to help with this year’s costs. Altogether, 21 groups have had grants recommended.
Then your reporter wandered home in the deepening dusk, trying to see the weekend’s sudden outbreak of little star-like blue flowers — “Glory of the Snow,” or Chionodoxa luciliae— carpeting some south-facing banks.