COUNCIL MATTERS: Rossland City Council Meetings, April 19, 2022
Three meetings – Financial plan presentation and consultation – tax talk! — a Public Hearing, and a regular Council meeting: our CAO honoured, minor baseball angst, cyber-security risks and new laptops for new Council, a bear survey on the way . . .
Present: Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Terry Miller, Dirk Lewis, Chris Bowman, Janice Nightingale, Stewart Spooner, and Andy Morel. Staff present: CAO Bryan Teasdale, CFO Mike Kennedy, Manager of Operations & Infrastructure Scott Lamont, and Deputy Corporate Officer Cynthia Año Nuevo.
1. PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON FINANCIAL PLAN, 5:00 pm
Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy presented the 2022–2026 Budget and Financial Plan and responded to questions from the five members of the public who showed up to hear about it. Anyone who could not attend but would like to examine the presentation can find it at this link.
Highlights included the fact that huge increases in assessed values of homes do not result in similarly huge increases in property taxes – Kennedy explained how the City determines how much tax revenue it requires to continue operations, and how that amount gets divided among properties.
Kennedy noted the planned 3% increase in taxes on residential properties and a 4% increase on all other classes. He pointed out that the City is also responsible for collecting and distributing taxes for the Province (school taxes), Regional District, Regional Hospital, BC Assessment and Municipal Finance Authority; the City gets only a portion of the money we pay for our property taxes.
New projects include a public washroom for downtown, to be located by the library.
Morel commented that prices on various materials have been increasing, and wondered how that would affect City expenses for projects; Teasdale said that most of the City’s large planned projects are already tendered out and locked in.
The Rossland Pool is planning to operate a full hours this year; there is no longer a shortage of lifeguards.
Kennedy put in a plug for the “Eye on Water” app to help track water use and discover leaks. Directions on how to get it are on the City website: “Go to www.eyeonwater.ca/signup to create your account online. To create you account, you will need to enter your postal code as “V0G1Y0” (zeros, no spaces), and your utility billing account number as “###-########-###” (3 digits, dash, 8 digits, dash, 3 digits). Your utility billing account number can be located on the top left of your bill.”
One resident asked whether the City is considering the increased costs of the effects of climate change – for example, on infrastructure. Kennedy responded that the City is beginning to assess those risks and is attempting to address them.
Kennedy and Moore both emphasized the importance of getting property tax payments to the City before the deadline, because late payments incur financial penalties. They pointed out that excuses such as “I put it in the mail” won’t help – homeowners are responsible for ensuring that their property tax payments arrive at the City office in time.
2. PUBLIC HEARING, 6:08 pm
Zoning Amendment for 1081 Olaus Way: the applicant seeks to rezone the portion of the property now designated as CD-2-GW-2, to match the zoning of the rest of the parcel, which is CD2–GW-1. No one spoke.
3. REGULAR COUNCIL MEETING, 6:10 pm
Mayor Moore presented a small wrapped gift to Chief Administrative Officer Bryan Teasdale in honor of his recognition by his professional body for 15 years of stellar service; he has been Rossland’s CAO for six years now — our longest-serving CAO since the turn of the century.
Public Input Period: No one spoke.
Trail Minor Baseball – Application for Community Grant Funding:
Trail Minor Baseball had applied for COVID Safe Restart Funding, and Council denied the request at its April 4, 2022 Council meeting, but suggested that the group could apply for Community Grant Funding instead. Normally requests for Community Grant Funding must be received by the October deadline, but Council is considering this application as it was made at Council’s suggestion.
Spooner moved to not approve the request, on the basis that it doesn’t meet the requirements of the policy governing the disposition of Community Grant funds. Nightingale commented that telling them to apply under a different program than the original application, and then telling them “sorry, you don’t actually qualify under this program either,” seems “rather harsh.” She proposed to instead provide them with 50% of their request for one year, to let them get themselves registered as a society. Miller agreed with that proposal. Nightingale commented further on the TRP and why it is in place – because Rossland does not contribute funding to regional recreation. She commented, “A little goodwill could go a long way in future negotiation.” Spooner commented on many of the different recreational activities that Rossland residents go elsewhere to enjoy, without financial support from the City. Spooner’s motion to not provide the funding CARRIED, with Spooner, Morel, Moore and Lewis in favour, and Bowman, Nightingale and Miller opposed.
1936 Planer Crescent – Zoning Amendment Bylaw # 2783:
A motion to give the bylaw third reading CARRIED unanimously, as did the further motion to adopt the bylaw. This rezoning from R-1 Residential to R-1 Residential Infill will allow the large lot to be subdivided.
2022-2026 Five Year Financial Plan Bylaw # 2785 (as amended):
A motion to give third reading to the bylaw CARRIED unanimously. The two amendments (1) revised the proportionate distribution of tax burden by class, and (2) based on the Revised Assessment Roll received from the BC Assessment Authority, made minor changes to the proportional distribution of taxes.
2022 Municipal Tax Rate Bylaw No. 2786:
A motion to give this bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.
Ophir Reservoir Local Area Tax Rate Bylaw No. 2787:
A motion to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.
Red Mountain Specified Area Tax Rate Bylaw No. 2788:
A motion to give the bylaw first, second and third readings CARRIED unanimously.
And one policy amendment: Council laptops
Staff have reviewed cyber-security risks, and suggest that the City supply new Council members – starting after the municipal elections in October –with laptops for their Council duties. Teasdale noted the cyber-attack on Whistler in April, 2021, that took down Whistler’s online services for many weeks and hampered their operation for months – for details, see this article. Council discussed the suggestion, and a motion to amend the City’s “Council Minimum Benefits Policy” accordingly CARRIED unanimously.
New laptops equipped with the necessary software and hardware will be provided to new Council members to use for Council business during their four-year term; at the end of a four-year term, they may keep the laptop after the City has cleaned and reformatted it. If a Councillor resigns before the end of the term, they are to return the laptop to be used by their replacement.
Covid Community Support Applications:
Rossland Seniors’ Association has requested $2,200 for “operations recovery” following two years of inactivity due to Covid. After discussion, a motion to approve the requested funding CARRIED.
Council Reviewed the usual slew of reports – on Building Permits, and Building Permit Inspections, Step Code Energy Rebates, Public Works, Water Production, the MidTown Transition Project, Crime Statistics, Council’s Updated Task List, the Corporate Management Work Plan, and the Q1 Budget Update.
Members’ reports: (highlights only)
Lewis – a “bear survey” will be going out to residents soon, and those who fill it out will be eligible for a draw. Spring clean-up: some properties have difficulty accessing their yards because of lingering snow; Lamont said that if a resident cannot get material out on time, please get in touch with him.
Spooner: the next meeting regarding the proposed Record Ridge magnesium mine will be on May 3.
Nightingale: spoke about the difficulties faced by one childcare provider who needs to find a space, as her partner’s new shiftwork schedule makes continuing to use her home too problematic.
Moore: the Midtown transition project is having supply and labour issues, as are all construction projects, but it is still on schedule for substantial completion by Late November or early December, and is still within budget.
The meeting adjourned, and your reporter strolled home in the chilly evening breeze clutching a slice of pizza pilfered from the staff’s leftovers from the meeting, and wondering whether the City could entice more than four or five residents to take an interest in the financial plan consultation if attendees were offered pizza. (It was delicious!)