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Rossland financial team makes cents out of the 5-year financial plan and audit

Rossland CFO Mike Kennedy makes 2024 5-Year Financial Plan accessible to public
The City of Rossland received its annual audit on its Budget and Five Year Financial Plan.

Rossland council and staff invited residents to the public consultation meeting at city hall for the draft of the 2024-2028 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan on Monday, April 15.

Most of the chairs were empty, however, with only three people attending the public consultation process.

Chief Financial Officer Mike Kennedy and Accounting Clerk Justin Brogan presented an informative overview on how property taxes work and how the city plans to spend the proposed $16.8 M budget of which approximately $6.2M comes from tax dollars.

What does this mean for the average Rosslander who makes $119,000 annually and owns a home with an average assessment of $618,000?

Their total tax hit includes a 5 per cent increase in property tax, and 10 per cent hike in the water, sewer, and parcel taxes. After figuring in the homeowners grant, the total per average household will be about $4,200, says Kennedy.

These taxes also helps the city contribute $2.2M to the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, a B.C. school tax of $2.6M, policing costs of $328,000, and $242,000 to the Regional Hospital.

“When we’re pulling together your tax notices, we factor in not only the information that we need to spend it on, but also on behalf of all the other parties,” said Kennedy. “So when you get your tax notice it’s not just us bringing the pain your way, it’s coming from multiple sources.”

Huge expenses are also anticipated with the city estimating that it needs to invest about $46M in improvements to its infrastructure, and a total of $100M in the next 20 years.

City staff is undertaking the development of a Utilities Master Plan (UMP) in 2024 to determine pending projects, costs, resources, maintenance, assets, and applicable taxes.

“The UMP is going to be a crucial document,” said Brogan. “As I like to say, ‘It’s going to unveil the major problems in Rossland, because that’s going to shine a light on the way our infrastructure needs to be repaired or needs to be improved in order to provide for Rossland in the long term.’”

Residents can expect to receive their tax notices mid-May and the due date is July 2, and can be subject to a 10 per cent penalty if late.

• The Rossland budget and financial plan was also subject to an annual audit from a delegation from Grant Thornton LLP led by accountant Ashley Ruggiero (CPA, CA, Partner) at the council meeting that followed.

The audit entailed a few small tweaks and fixes from the auditors, as well as a larger reveal of missed development assets worth about $4.9M.

Tangible capital assets was adopted in 2009, so that when a development is completed all the costs of the infrastructure is essentially donated to the city once there is a final completion certificate, explained Ruggiero.

Apparently, this was not assessed from 2009 to the present, so the Rossland financial team had to come up with a figure that represents the aggregate development infrastructure assets such as underground water and sewer systems.

Coun. Eliza Boyce asked, if the policy was implemented in 2009, why wasn’t the oversight caught in a previous audit?

The auditor replied that it was also basically overlooked, and Kennedy added that the asset retirement obligations and all the development infrastructure assets were available via GIS, but hadn’t hit the books.

“This is effectively donations, so it’s a big catch-up entry, based on data we had but was unearthed by her questions.”

The auditor commended the city for it’s $2.7M in net financial assets, a significant jump from the previous year.

“It’s a strong indicator of how the municipality is doing,” said Ruggiero.

The 2023 Audited Financial Statements were approved. Ruggiero complimented city staff and thanked the Finance team for their hard work and transparency during the auditing period.

Council later carried the third reading of the financial plan.

Amendments to the water and sewer parcel tax bylaws, the Ophir Reservoir tax bylaw and the Municipal tax rate bylaw were also given first, second, and third readings and carried unanimously.

Jim Bailey

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