Telkwa council has decided to roll back its water and sewer rates increase to two per cent.
At its March 26 meeting, council decided it had to start putting aside more money to deal with the looming prospect of a provincially-imposed asset management crunch and voted to bump the rates by five for residents and three per cent for
In the interim, however, the Village received an infrastructure grant from the B.C. government for $3.6 million. That coupled with feedback from residents about property assessment increases instigated the discussion about reversing the previous decision.
Mayor Brad Layton reported that by keeping mill rates steady, the average property owner was looking at a 6.2 per cent rise in property taxes.
“That is a tax increase, a significant tax increase,” he said.
Coun. Matthew Monkman was concerned about not having the financial cushion to address the aging water and sewer infrastructure.
“What other high priorities are there in Telkwa?” he asked.
Nevertheless, Monkman said he was comfortable with the rollback providing the lion’s share of the infrastructure grant money was set aside for water and sewer upgrades. He suggested $1 million each be put into the water and sewer reserves.
Layton and Coun. Annette Morgan were on board with the idea, although they did not make a final decision on just how the grant money would be allocated.
The mayor, however, suggested a significant portion should be set aside to go after other potential funding sources.
“We need to use it to leverage other money, or getting shovel-ready for projects and build reserves,” he said.
One such project is flood mitigation for which the Village just received a preliminary report from Golder Associates.
There will be a public hearing on May 7 before the Village’s fiscal 2019 budget is finalized at which residents can have their say on these and other spending issues. The budget is scheduled to be passed May 14.