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Terrace residents face tax hikes in future years

RCMP, city administrators cite need to hire more staff
RCMP and City of Terrace staffing boosts could add to Terrace resident’s tax burden in coming years. (Black Press Media File Photo)

It’s not happening in 2022 but Terrace taxpayers can expect an additional tax hike the year following when proposals to add to the city’s payroll and that of the RCMP detachment are fully fleshed out.

Based on preliminary figures presented to council this year, the additional cost would be more than $220,000 representing a tax hike of approximately 1.5 per cent over and above what increases administrators will present to council for existing services and activities.

The RCMP detachment’s request for two positions would take up $150,000 of the increase with one position for the detachment’s front counter and another to beef up electronic data gathering and filing.

“Emotionally charged situations and a constant pace creates a stressful situation for the existing three staff in this area,” indicated a briefing note regarding the RCMP detachment’s front counter.

“This [additional] position will allow for adequate rotation and will also offer relieve coverage.”

The extra position to collect and file electronic data follows changes in policies from the provincial government’s criminal prosecutors, the briefing note stated.

“This position would allow officers to focus on investigations and would provide support for the volumes of information required to be organized and stored.

As for the city’s own staff, administrators are calling for increased spending in the administration department, in the bylaw department and in the fire department for a combined total of more than $70,000.

Council this year was also told more spending is needed for occupational health and safety needs, to hire help in its budget and purchasing areas and in its communications and human resources, but no figures were provided.

City administrative officer Kris Boland told council during a committee of the whole session to discuss budget plans, that in terms of potential tax increases for 2022, there was not enough time to present a complete financial package for consideration.

He said he could not speak directly to the RCMP requests but for city itself, said the staffing increases are needed.

Had that information been available, council would have been looking at a tax increase for 2022 of at least seven per cent and not the 5.52 per cent it is now considering.

That touched off a discussion with mayor Carol Leclerc leaning toward an additional tax hike, saying she “was not in favour of working employees to death.”

With specific reference to the RCMP, Leclerc said the detachment already deals with the most cases per officer in the province.

“We are impacted by what’s happening around us,” the mayor added of large scale development in Kitimat and in Prince Rupert resulting in Terrace becoming a hub for mental health, social and addictions problems without the financial means to finance a response.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” she added in suggesting the province provide the city with money.

Councillor James Cordeiro said the provincial government doesn’t care, an attitude that persists regardless of the political party in power.

“It’s frustrating for us,” he said, noting that either the city has to keep increasing taxes or begin to make cuts.

What the city lacks, Cordeiro continued, is a large scaled project within its boundaries to boost its tax base.

Councillor Sean Bujtas, in commenting on provincial assistance through the RCMP, did note that the police force several years ago promised to station a four-member team in the city that would be financed by the province.

“That never seemed to materialize,” he said.

The city has released its budget plans for 2022 calling for a 5.52 per cent increase, a portion of which will be funnelled into an account to pay for capital expenses.

Residents with an opinion on the budget have until Nov. 23 to make their views known by filling out a survey through the city’s website.

READ MORE: City of Terrace to bring in additional property tax

About the Author: Rod Link

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