Telkwa releases 2014 budget

Residents will see slight tax decrease over coming year

The Village of Telkwa unveiled its 2014 budget and five-year-plan at a Committee of the Whole meeting on April 14.

The average household will see .02 per cent decrease in their taxes from 2013.

Last year was a busy one for the village. They completed the Community Hall refurbishment and the Hankin Corner building, continued with the soccer field and Aldermere Ridge Park upgrades and paid off the fire department’s fire truck debt.

This year looks to be a little quieter. Highlights include: the construction of the Morris Reservoir water storage project, finishing off the new soccer field and the building of a new firehall.

The $600,00 water reservoir project will be paid for with the village’s current reserves from the Federal Gas Tax Transfer program ($200,000) and future transfer amounts ($100,00 per year).

When the new reservoir is complete, it will provide Telkwa with a minimum 20 per cent increase in reserves.

“We are hoping to go in and inspect the old one and if the amount of work that needs to done is feasible, then we will go ahead with that,” village councillor Rimas Zitkauskas said.

“We need to ensure that we have proper water storage.”

As well, the Telkwa firehall will be moving shop in 2014.

“We are going to build a two-bay garage, nothing fancy, this time we’ll include a washroom though,” fire chief  Randy Cunningham said.

The village will also continue on with the wildfire protection plan. Last year they received provincial government grants, totalling $1.2 million, to treat some 500 hectares of land to prevent forest fires.

“We want to mitigate some of the risk to avoid what happened at a place like Slave Lake,” Cunningham said.

The community was forced to come up with around 10 per cent of the costs for the project, but was able to sell off dead wood to Pacific Inland Resources to cover the costs

The Parcel Tax, which was implanted decades ago to pay for the Telkwa sewer system, is scheduled to expire in 2016. When it does, residents can expect a $80 decrease in their annual taxes.

There are also a few projects on hold that could begin in 2014, should the Village have success finding grant money.

“We have been very successful in securing grants, which has allowed us to move forward on a projects that we couldn’t have done had we just relied on our tax base,” Zitkauskas said. “A lot of what we do this year depends on whether we can partner with the new federal building Canada fund.”

Possible projects include a new lift station and work on water distribution lines.

The Village also announced that Telkwa’s population has climbed from just under 1,400 to 1,471 in 2014.

Of note: the village is expected to finalize and sign the leases for three new businesses that will take over the retail spaces in the newly refurbished Hankin Corner building. They are expecting an official announcement next week.