Citing economic pressures from dealing with the effects of increased economic development, the City of Terrace is forecasting an 8 per cent tax increase for residents in 2020.
To the average household, this will result in an increase of $120 annually, or $10 per month.
Of this increase, the city says 5.5 per cent is directly related to pressures from increased economic activity in the region, with the remaining 2.5 per cent resulting from increases to regular operational expenses.
“The increased economic development, while beneficial to some local businesses, is not generating any revenue for the City of Terrace and is placing unprecedented demands on our capacity to maintain service levels and manage growth-related pressure on key infrastructure,” wrote Kate Lautens, city communications advisor in a notice posted to the city’s website.
The 5.5 per cent increase is valued at $770,000 to include funds to hire an additional RCMP member, an additional bylaw compliance officer, two more fire fighters, a parks supervisor and admin support, according to the city.
Last summer, the City of Terrace requested B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety to add an additional three RCMP members to the Terrace detachment. Within the draft, the city has budgeted for one additional member in 2020 for a total of 25 municipally funded RCMP members in Terrace.
The cost for one new RCMP officer is $179,000 in total. The city’s portion at 70 per cent would cost $130,000, with the federal government pitching in the remaining $49,000.
Budgeting for the two remaining positions will be done in future years. The city is also expecting a provincially funded RCMP member to arrive in 2020.
With a significant influx of people coming into Terrace from increased economic development in the region, the city says Terrace is experiencing increased levels of homelessness, vagrancy, and criminal activity.
Terrace RCMP received an 18 per cent increase in total calls for service this last third quarter, and experienced a 37 per cent increase over the same period for total crime incidents, including offences against person or property, drug offences, motor vehicle offences between 2018 and 2019.
“Our protective service departments are stretched beyond their limits dealing with increasing incidents of social issues and criminal activity,” the city notes.
Key points in the draft 2020 budget include:
- Enhancing the bylaw compliance department with the focus of being more proactive in the downtown core.
- Hiring one additional municipal RCMP officer to support the increased call volume the Terrace detachment is experiencing.
- Hiring two additional firefighters to ensure sustainable operations for the fire department.
- A parks supervisor position to respond to increased demands in our parks and public spaces.
- A temporary increase to administration capacity to assist staff in managing the impacts of LNG Canada.
- The city will be using a portion of the $8.197 million Northern Capital Planning Grant received from the province in 2019 to offset capital project costs in 2020.
The City of Terrace will present the first draft of the 2020 budget to council for consideration on Dec. 17 at 5 p.m. at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.