Thursday afternoon, Rossland city council reviewed the newest draft of the budget in preparation for next week’s public engagement.
Steve Ash, consulting manager of finance, and city staff prepared a second draft of the budget to give councillors a better idea of what will be presented to the public at a public input meeting on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m. at the Prestige Mountain Resort.
The mayor and councillors had the opportunity to weigh in on what information should be included in the slides to help explain the city’s financial challenges to the public. Essentially the purpose of the meeting will be to explain the necessity of making difficult decisions between lowering the city’s costs, and hence the services the city provides, and increasing local property taxes. As Rossland already has some of the highest taxes in the area, there is only so much of an increase that can be accommodated before the high taxes start putting off potential new residents and businesses.
Once Rosslanders understand the stakes, council needs their input on how to proceed with financial planning for the next five years. Those who’ve been following the budget discussions thus far may already have opinions on how council should proceed, but to recap for everyone else, the factors contributing to Rossland’s high taxes are as follows:
- Rossland has a relatively low commercial tax base;
- as a mountain community with high snow fall, Rossland faces higher costs for essential services;
- close to 20 per cent of the budget is spent on recreation;
- the operation of older city buildings is costly;
- the city provides financial support for social programs;
- and Rossland pays a disproportionate amount for regional services.
To keep Rossland’s taxes from increasing beyond five per cent in 2017, council has voted to decrease next year’s costs by $250,000, following public input in regards to priorities.
For more information, take a look at the budget documents available on the City of Rossland’s website and be sure to attend Wednesday night’s meeting.