Property tax for Richmondites in 2013 looks set to match the same as last years increase.
City councils finance committee unanimously approved on Monday the 2013 operating budget, which calls for a $5 million increase translating to a 2.98 per cent property tax hike for homeowners.
The citys number crunchers described next years budget process as challenging, given the costs of providing programs in a growing community.
Staff, according to the report presented to council, have been looking for efficiencies and innovative ways to deliver services without any drop in levels.
The majority on council praised staff for keeping the tax increase relatively low, especially in comparison to surrounding municipalities.
Youve done a great job in keeping it down, said Coun. Harold Steves.
But will this catch up with us in the future; are we in for a shock?
Steves was assured by staff there were no surprises down the line.
A breakdown on the municipal tax dollar shows that 20.6 cents goes to policing and another 15.1 cents to fire-rescue.
A further 6.5 cents goes to parks; 5.5 to roads and 4.8 to community centres and the Olympic oval.
The 2.98 per cent increase in property tax includes a one per cent transfer to the citys reserves for future facilities and infrastructure demands.
More cause of concern for some on city council was a request from staff for one-time expenditures, which are generally funded from budget surpluses.
Everyone agreed that a $100,000 retrofit of the Hugh Boyd Ovals bleachers and other structures, as well as an $840,000 retrofit at Watermania was much needed.
But the request for another $400,000 for the citys major events fund didnt sit too well with Coun. Bill McNulty.
Right now, theres a couple of events that I believe can do better, said McNulty, referring to the likes of Ships to Shore, Maritime Festival and Hockey Day.
I think we should re-evaluate and have another look at them, theres nothing new to them, the crowds arent there.
Why dont we have the Maritime Festival for four months, have a ship down there every week?
The citys community services general manager, Catherine Volkering Carlile, said the hosting of the three aforementioned events cost $450,000.
(The request for $400,000) will top up that fund, she added.
Rock bottom on the 16-strong one-time expenditure priority list was $30,000 to upgrade the Gateway Theatres website.
Coun. Chak Au felt strongly that the request should be further up the chain in a bid to help the theatres popularity and asked council to consider squeezing it into the budget.
However, he enjoy scant support, with most suggesting the theatre find ways within the $1 million it already receives from the city to upgrade its website.
There was, however, a directive from council for the citys own IT staff to perhaps work with the theatre on improving its website.
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