As part of $250,000 in funding cuts for 2017, Rossland city council had decided to eliminate the $50,000 it set aside last year to help subsidize the Trail Recreation Program (TRP) fees that Rossland residents using Trail recreation facilities are required to pay. That decision was solidified on Dec. 5, when council allocated $250,000 in community support funding and removed TRP rec financial assistance.
However, at Monday night’s council meeting, the assistance for TRP was revived, albeit, at a fifth of its previous funding level.
On Dec. 5, city council allocated $15,917 to the Rossland Youth Action Network (YAN), contributing to the cost of renovating YAN’s new building on the old Emcon lot. But it was brought to council’s attention that since the building in questions is in fact owned by the city, funding should come from the capital project portion of the city’s 2017 budget instead.
Council therefore had $15,917 that it could allocate to other applicants, and following a plea made by Sean Miller, president of the Trail Stingrays, during public input earlier in the meeting, council decided it should allocate up to $10,000 to assist Rossland residents with TRP fees. Council also decided it should review its policy regarding TRP assistance at a future meeting.
For the remainder of the funding, council allocated $1700 to the Rossland Museum Society and $4200 to the Rossland Public Library.
Results of public input on budget and financial plan are in
A total of 73 taxpayers participated in a public input process to help guide city council in making budget decisions. T. Miller and Associates collected public input on behalf of the city, engaging 45 Rossland taxpayers over two focus groups at the Prestige Hotel and another 28 people online. Terry Miller, who gave a brief presentation to council regarding the results on Monday night, acknowledged that the process was not open to all of the public, and so was not a representative sample. “But it’s still kind of worth looking at,” he said.
Participants were asked “What tax-funded programs, services or supports do you feel are more (or less) important to our community?” They were also asked to provide their ideas regarding recreation, community support groups, city core services, and regional shared services, and to give their top and secondary recommendations for reducing taxes.
Giving a quick overview of the results, Miller pointed out that not a single participant suggested that taxes be reduced below current levels.
The public is invited to take a deeper look at the data on Monday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
Preview of 2017-2021 budget and financial plan
The public input done by T. Miller and Associates is just the beginning of the City of Rossland’s plan to engage taxpayers regarding the budget for the next five years. Elma Hamming, manager of finance, and Steve Ash, who worked on the city’s financial plan last year and is assisting this year, presented a preview of the 2017-2021 budget and financial plan to council on Monday night.
The bare bones of it is that Rossland taxes for 2017 will increase 4.75 per cent, while sewer and water will increase 4.5 per cent each. These increases, combined with $250,000 in cuts to city spending, will allow the city to balance a capital budget of $2.3 million and an operations budget of $6.0 million. The budget will allow the city to proceed with improvements to Spokane St. — work that can’t be delayed because of a high risk assessment, according to city staff.
Further public consultation activities are expected to be scheduled for late February or early March, and public hearings are expected to be held in late April or early May, with final adoption taking place at the regular council meeting scheduled for May 8, 2017.
Council approves gift cupboard request
Following a request made by Rossland Summit School students from Grades 1 and 2 at a council meeting on Nov. 30, council gave the students permission to install a gift cupboard in Esling Park. The students will be raising money for the cupboard by raffling off sections of a replica of downtown Rossland made of gingerbread at noon on Dec. 21.