Masset will be asking taxpayers for less than one per cent more than last year, according to the draft budget which was unveiled Monday night (April 16).
Council gave first, second and third reading to the budget, and will now make it available to the public for any comments before they finalize it at the end of the month.
Mayor Barry Pages said council members wanted to avoid a large tax increase and keep the budget pretty much where it was last year.
The village will be collecting $503,200 in property taxes (apart from water and sewer taxes), which chief financial officer Kim Mushynsky said is 0.8 per cent more than it collected last year.
Residents won’t notice much of a change in village operations, but many will see an increase in property taxes unrelated to the village, Ms Mushynsky said. The regional district wants more money, and new this year is a police tax for small communities. Masset taxpayers will be contributing $29,000 for police services due to a provincial government decision to make small communities contribute to policing costs.
This year, the village will spend approximately $1.5-million running its airport (completely covered by revenue coming in at the airport), about $360,000 running its water and sewer system, $60,000 on emergency and fire protection, and about $1.3-million on general operations.
Council is working on several capital projects, but most will require grants before they can go ahead, Ms Mushysnky said. The village will be buying a new dump truck and fixing some sidewalks, as well as upgrading the recreation field and buying new computers for the office. It would like to start work on a new airport terminal (construction is tentatively planned for next year, depending on grants), upgrade the emergency evacuation road, get some new gear for the firefighters, build a new tourist information booth, and do some restoration work at the library. The village is also working on a long-term plan to replace water lines, with the first phase of that work – replacing the water lines along Delkatla and Harrison Streets – just completed.
Queen Charlotte also presented a draft budget to the public Monday night. According to the draft, Queen Charlotte intends to collect $197,000 in property taxes this year, a 27 percent increase over the $155,000 it collected last year. (This amount does not include the taxes the village will collect for water and sewer services, which haven’t changed from last year.) Director of Corporate and Financial Service Debra Uliana said the change is the result of hundreds of factors, but pointed to two proposed expenditures as part of the increase.
The village would like to spend more than $40,000 on a piece of property as part of a proposed “Spirit Square” project. Ms Uliana said the funds for this purchase are slated to be paid back by the Gwaii Trust over four years.
The village is also setting aside almost $100,000 under the transfer to future expenditures budget line. This money may be used for any new projects funded by grants which require matching funds from the village.
Ms Uliana said last year’s budget was created by the interim administrator based on 2004 incorporation study numbers. She said this year, the budget is based on actual expenditures from last year and trying to compare the two budgets is like comparing apples and oranges. She expects the 2007 and 2008 budget will make a better direct comparison.
The water system is the largest project on the books for 2007, with the village planning to spend $2.8 million on water-related capital projects. The majority of the funding for these projects comes from provincial and Gwaii Trust grants.
Ms Uliana said staff have worked hard to get grants for projects like Stanley Lake, the water meters, the skateboard park, staff training for the water treatment plant, office equipment upgrades and a sewer lift station.
The 2007 budget also reflects the village’s attempt to put money aside now for future expenses, such as road maintenance, which will be transferred to the municipality by 2010.
The budget received first, second and third reading at the meeting and is now available for public comment.
Council is planning to adopt the budget at its May 7 meeting.
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