Ladysmith eyes 5.42% tax increase

  • Apr. 25, 2011 8:00 p.m.

A town’s budget can usually be considered a work in progress.It gets presented, projects get approved or pulled until a final list of revenue and expenses is approved.Council had directed staff aim for around a 5 per cent increase to the average household.The preliminary budget presented to Ladysmith council on April 18 comes with a 5.42 per cent increase.Council had also directed that taxes to industry should not increase and commercial taxes should increase only slightly. The commercial tax rate will be discussed at the next meeting.These are just preliminary numbers and town staff are still waiting on a number of factors including the residential school tax which is expected in early May.City manager Ruth Malli said last year the town collected $6,001,211 through property taxes and this year needs $6,417,639.New construction is expected to add $91,000 to town coffers.According to the 2011 provisional budget documents, the town will be collecting $10,336,762 in revenue and will be spending the same amount in operating expenses, not factoring in the school tax.Those expenses include wages, benefits, supplies and rentals needed by any departments. Malli noted the town has seen a lot of capital spending in last few years.Starting with Ladysmith’s inception until 2006, the town has spend $85 million in capital projects. That number in 2011 will reach $99 million.There are some additions to the 2011 budget including the new costs of maintenance for the turf field, this is the first year the town will be wholly supporting the trolley service and the local municipal election. Staff also presented a list of projects brought to their attention as priorities for the  year. They include a new Graphical Information System to map properties for $32,000; Overhaul of the zoning bylaw for $28,000; Replacement of the hydraulic rescue tools for $48,186; A new fire rescue and bush truck for $475,000 (although there still needs to be some discussion with department staff and the money can be taken out of a vehicle replacement, lease fund); Closed circuit TV in the RCMP station, a legislated must, for $65,000 (which can be paid for through surplus funds from a previous project at the police station); Flume line repair for $75,000; Vehicle replacement for $299,000 (which can also be paid for with surplus funds); The replacement of some doors at Frank Jameson Community Centre for $9,950; Replacement of Holland Creek Bridge for $12,076 (staff are awaiting other funding news for this project); A mosquito sound device to deter loitering at Transfer Beach after hours for $4,000; Aggie Hall washroom upgrade for $15,000; Ditching at Aggie Field for $10,000; An emergency back-up generator at FJCC for $9,688; and $10,000 for the Kin Park which will come out of the Amenity Fund.Combined, the recommended projects amount to an extra $233,900 needed from taxation.Given it is already April, there are also a handful of projects the town has already committed to, including:The secondary suites review for $42,000 ($22,000 to come from this budget);New spin bikes for the FJCC for $7,000;Work trimming dangerous trees in Gourlay Janes Park for $20,000;Ladysmith Cowichan Valley Trail which can be paid for with a $20,000 grant;$5,000 has been allotted for the High Street open space improvements;Council committed to spending $12,100 to help with the new skatepark;The town’s website has already been paid for and will not come off this budget, it is costing around $14,500;Implementation of the Community Strategic Plan is also going to cost $71,500 but will not have an implication on this budget as it has been previously funded and will receive $31,000 in grants and;A land agent has already been signed for town-owned lands to the tune of $41,600, which will also not impact the 2011 budget.In all, staff is recommending $300,000 be raised through taxation to support the list of projects.There is also a list of secondary projects, not requiring immediate attention, but on the town’s radar.Those include up to $1,411,206 for projects such as the Aggie Hall roof, stabilization of the amphitheatre banks, and more parking at Transfer Beach. The town will be continuing its talks on Tuesday, April 26 at 4 p.m.