The piper will now be paid—and city property taxes will be going up by nearly $100 per home.
Only two people out of the 2,558 total electors—who are residents and eligible non-resident property electors in the city—were dissenting voices in the alternative approval process (AAP) enacted on the borrowing the city proposed to pay its $4 million Columbia/Washington project bill.
If 10 per cent of the electors—256 signatures—had signed the petition against the bylaw then the long-term borrowing would have failed.
Although there was some doubt people would support the funding formula for the project, the AAP dispelled those, said Mayor Greg Granstrom.
“When we started the project I think the people of Rossland understood loud and clear the need for infrastructure upgrades,” he said. “So people understand, in order to be sustainable, we have to upgrade our infrastructure.”
The total project was estimated to be within the total budget of $5.78 million. The funding will be $295,313 from a Towns for Tomorrow grant, $31,375 from development cost charges, $1,014,547 and $4 million from long term (30-year) borrowing.
The reason most municipalities borrow for large capital projects is that borrowing enables the sharing of the project cost with future taxpayers, said city chief financial officer Cecile Arnott.
Funding a capital project strictly from reserves and surplus means past and present taxpayers are the only contributors to the project.
The impact of borrowing $4 million will now result in an estimated annual debt repayment of $212,000. The average home in Rossland is assessed at $255,400. Therefore, the maximum estimated annual tax increase would be $96 per year.
That increase could be lessened through upcoming strategic planning by city council, Arnott pointed out.
If the long-term borrowing failed, council would have had to review a strategy for borrowing over five years and would have had to deplete reserves, resulting in borrowing $3-4 million and repaying over five years.
The estimated annual tax increase to an average home would be between $300 and $400 per year.
The AAP ended Aug. 27.
In 2011/2012 the City of Rossland, in conjunction with the Ministry of Transportation, funded a major project to upgrade Columbia and Washington Streets.
It was a one-time opportunity to improve the infrastructure in the downtown and the two streets for efficient traffic flow, tourism attraction, pedestrian safety and reduction in greenhouse gas through improvements in street lighting.
A bylaw to authorize the borrowing of $6 million for the project received elector approval through the alternative approval process in February 2011. However, due to a timing issue the inspector of municipalities did not issue the required certificate of approval.
In early 2012, the project scope was finalized. The resulting budget for the project for the city’s portion was set at $5.64 million. The city advanced the required funding in order to ensure that the project could proceed as planned.
In May 2013, as part of the 2013-2017 5 year plan, a further $130,000 to cover the costs of street furniture and signage, handicap stalls and other sidewalk works was approved. The total budget including these additions was now $5.78 million.