Kitimat eyes three per cent tax rise for 2014

Council has been taking in budget presentations this week from department heads and community groups.

Community groups and administrative departments of the District gave their budget proposal to council for consideration over two days of budget meetings this week.

This all to be worked into an eventual final budget which has been designed with an eye to keep property taxes only to a three per cent tax revenue increase. (Tax rate will be set in the new year.)

Chief Administrative Officer Ron Poole said that, as with their 2013 budget, they’re focusing on capacity building, and less on capital projects.

“The reason for this is simple; the impacts of development are being felt now. Our planning department is a good example of this as we have tripled the number of planners on staff,” he said.

He also said they need to look at ways of putting out projects, considering that the plan to rebuild downtown sidewalks in 2013 fell through due to a lack of bidders for the project, primarily due to contractors busy with other projects.

As a run-down of what has been presented for operations, general government services which includes the administration, council, and grants to community organizations, is seeking $3,499,920, or a 3.1 per cent drop from 2013’s budget. Council’s budget saw the biggest drop of 25.9 per cent, partially from reduced council initiatives and lower travel expenses budgeted.

Protective services — the police, fire department and building inspections, among other categories — sees a 4.6 per cent rise request, most significantly under animal and pest control, due to an alteration with the way the District handles animal control, following recommendations for better funding for the humane society.

The society in the preliminary budget did not get their wish to be included under an operational grant, but their contract rises from $81,180 in 2013 to $153,500 in the 2014 financial plan.

The transportation budget was presented at a 3.1 per cent increase. Transportation includes roads and streets, street lights, traffic signals and other general services.

Environmental development services, which encompasses a range from planning and public health, to economic development, seeks a 7.8 per cent rise.

The planning department takes the bulk of that increase with a 33.7 per cent rise, keeping in line with Poole’s comments that they are looking at capacity building.

The recreation department looks to a 6.7 per cent increase, with no particular area taking the bulk of the increase, but the Riverlodge budget itself sees the biggest increase of all recreation categories at 9.3 per cent, to $1,074,687.

Recreation and Cultural Services, the budget category that includes their payments to keep the museum, library and Mount Elizabeth Theatre running, is proposed to go up six per cent. The theatre sees no increase over last year, but the museum and the library have proposed to go up 5.4 and 2.6 per cent respectively.

Capital spending presentations are expected in the near future for pre-budget approvals.