Terrace B.C. taxes to hike three per cent

City taxes are projected to increase three per cent in 2017, decided Terrace council in setting a provisional budget for the year.

The Terrace Aquatic Centre upgrade is the biggest part of the City of Terrace budget for capital projects

City taxes are projected to increase three per cent in 2017, decided Terrace council so far in setting a provisional budget for the year.

That’s in contrast to last year when council worked at a zero tax increase.

Council members cited rising overall costs, including utilities, during provisional budget discussions and presentations late last year.

“The purpose of the provisional budget is to get the framework of the budget in place so staff can plan for and proceed with capital projects and so our community partners (Heritage Park Museum and the library) can move ahead knowing what funding they will be receiving from the city,” said Alisa Thompson, corporate administrator for the City of Terrace.

The city’s estimated revenue for 2017 is $25,974,174 and that’s up from $22,804,743 in 2016.

Total expenditures are estimated to be $27,415,094 up from last year’s $23,484,796.

Capital expenditures are estimated at $9,069,378 – nearly double of last year’s amount of $5,002,415.

However, of that amount, the city’s costs are $2,322,050 as $1,101,531 of that is carried over from last year and $5,645,797 comes from other sources.

The biggest part of that $9 million is the $5,500,000 for the construction costs  of Terrace Aquatic Centre upgrades but that cost is being eased to a major extent by a $4.3 million federal gas tax rebate. For that project, carry over funds amount to $846,703 through the regional district, Northern Development Initiative, operations savings and carry-forwards.

The Heritage Park Museum Society asked for a two per cent increase in its operating budget plus a two per cent increase in its archiving budget.

Council, meeting as a committee of the whole during budget discussions, approved the increase for the museum’s operating budget.

The Terrace Public Library requested a 9.5 per cent increase, which would be an additional $60,456.

The increase was to cover increasing costs for wages, benefits, and janitorial services, which would be about $50,000, and to expand the number of work hours for the part-time programmer for approximately $10,000.

There was a long debate regarding this request and council ended up recommending the library get about $50,000 more this year with the understanding that there will be no increase for 2018.

While the city prefers tucking away a surplus of approximately $800,000, that goal will likely be less this year in the order of $623,344.

“There was less of a surplus in 2016 due to higher costs, and lower than expected non-market change revenue (city revenue from new construction),” said Thompson.

“We’ll see this budget back again and it will continue to be refined as new information regarding property values is confirmed,” said Thompson.

The city is expected to approve the final budget by the end of March.

Taxpayers will know the final tax rate hike when notices are sent out in late spring.