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Terrace city council plans tax revenue hike

Officials say city will need more than $400,000 in new revenues for 2013

THE CITY of Terrace is looking at tax increases to boost revenue by 2.5 per cent based on projections for its 2013 budget.

During the first in a series of public municipal budget meetings last night, city staff presented council and regional district representatives with a proposed city spending plan for 2013.

Next year's budget proposal involves services and utility costs held at status quo, an accelerated roads program, community forums, land purchases and a major pool renovation which includes a water slide.

To keep up with what's planned, the city will need to increase its tax revenues by $405,202 compared to last year, an amount that also accounts for inflationary costs calculated at 2.8 per cent.

New tax revenues added into the mix this year are minimal at $50,000, said the city's finance director Ron Bowles last night, adding revenues from the newly-running Skeena Sawmills will be generated within the next few years.

The city has also been trying to increase revenues by pursuing industrial interests in the Skeena Industrial Lands located just south of the airport, although a most recent attempt fell through when Yaorun Wood pulled back on a lease agreement it has with the city.

And while the City of Terrace waits for its revenue base to grow, Bowles said it's hold the line on services for now.

"The budget you're being presented with today is the exact same services as 2012, no increase, no decrease," said Bowles.

The city does want to increase public participation by broadcasting its meetings, hosting a public budget review session at the Sportsplex, and by increasing community outreach. Meeting dates are available online on the city's website, as are broadcasts of the meetings.

Bowles said he will be available to go out into the community and meet further with groups who are interested in hearing more about the budget.

Last night's meeting was an introduction to the draft budget, which will serve as a baseline from which council will form its formal spending plan.

Major planned projects include revamping the city's pool by replacing a wall, extending interior square footage and adding a water slide for $1.9 million, $1.3 million in road repaving, two major road rebuild projects totalling $1.5 million and $800,000 to purchase more crown land for the Skeena Industrial Park located just past the airport.