Rossland City Council's Financial Angst: Public Meeting Coming Up
Rossland Council met again on Thursday, April 7, to review a second draft of a proposed budget to present to residents for their comments. Council hopes that, on April 13, local taxpayers will get informed and give them useful information on which amenities the City should continue to fund, and which amenities citizens would prefer not to pay taxes to support. Of course, we all want all our amenities — but we also all want not to pay taxes that are unaffordable.
Consulting Chief Financial Officer Steve Ash presented the stark facts: Rossland faces unavoidable expenses in the next few years to pay for infrastructure that had been underfunded for many decades. Over the years, too few dollars found their way into too few reserve funds to deal with infrastructure repairs and replacements. Now, we’ll have to start performing some long-overdue replacements and repairs; we can’t put it off any longer — putting it off would result in even greater expenses. And it won’t be cheap now, either.
To avoid tax increases that Ash considers unacceptable, Rossland will have to cut some costs. That’s where Council needs the citizen input: what costs can the City cut? You can help the City make these choices.
Mayor Kathy Moore commented, “The finance CoW (meeting) was very good. It was a preview of what Steve will be presenting at the public meeting. He laid out the challenges the city is facing very well. Council intends to really engage the community on how we will address those challenges. We will have to make some decisions soon that will have an impact starting in 2017. Currently growth is fairly flat, so revenue from new residential homes will be modest. Since over 90% of our tax revenue comes from residential properties, this is significant for us. As we have stated before, we have to invest in our infrastructure which has been neglected for decades. Expenses across the board continue to rise so that leaves us with some tough choices — either raise taxes, reduce services or come up with some creative alternative solutions. I really hope residents will come out to the public consultation on the financial plan so they can be informed and get involved.”
Councillor Aaron Cosbey had this to say: “The citizens of Rossland might wonder, seeing these figures, why all of a sudden things are so bad. Why are we suddenly looking at increasing taxes and/or cutting services? It’s because we are finally actually addressing the elephant in the room: our massive infrastructure deficit. The Columbia Street revitalization was a good start, and replacing the 100-year old pipe on Washington is the next step. We can’t just keep happily ignoring the fact that our infrastructure is on the edge. The good news is that the investments we’re making today will serve the people of Rossland for decades to come. Yes, it’s going to be hard in the short term, but in five years we’ll be sitting pretty.”
To help the City make the best choices, tell them what you value the most — and the least. The important decisions are made by those who show up. Go to the public consultation on Wednesday, April 13, at the Prestige Mountain Resort at 7:00 pm and speak out. And hope that Rossland can qualify for more federal infrastructure grants!