To the editor;
A belated happy New Year to you all.
By now everyone should have received their 2016 Property Assessment Notice.
From what BC Assessment has said the majority of properties here in Barriere have seen a decrease in value. The estimates say the average of this decline in assessment is in the range of 10 per cent to 12 per cent.
The dark side to declining property values is that the District loses revenue. The loss of revenue corresponds to what the decline in property assessment is. If the average of the decline is 10 per cent, then the revenue the council has to run the District is reduced by 10 per cent as well.
The current mayor and council have stated that their collective view is that they would strive to keep costs in line with what was needed to provide the services that the residents of Barriere have deemed to be essential.
Mayor Smith assured everyone that she would go through the budget “line by line” to seek out ways to cut costs to provide these services.
Now that there is a potential 10 per cent to 12 per cent revenue shortfall this promise of no huge tax increases may be hard to stick by.
This year council must also deal such problems as the roads budget which has been subsidized by money that had been put aside to temporarily cover the cost of this new to the District service.
Unfortunately, this reserve of money has run out and has not been replaced. It would seem that any money that might have been put towards paying for future road maintenance costs was directed to paying for costs to do with the sewer system project overruns plus additions to roadwork that council were assured to be necessary.
Indeed, there are quite a number of pressing matters that will require a review during the budget process if there is any hope of not having large tax increases.
Generally the only way to reduce costs in local government is to reduce service levels.
Do we need services like a building inspector at the level we have now?
If we have staff over the winter should they be cleaning the park walkways?
Should we be taking on new nice to do projects like a splash pad when the water reclamation plant is not finished?
Council must look closely at what residents want and make their decisions based on the input that they receive.
I am sure those of you that are interested have taken a good look at the proposed budget and information that staff have gathered over the past while.
It does take some time to formulate your thoughts so that you can speak to council and let them know what your wishes are.
That last bit was a bit tongue in cheek. The proposed budget most likely will not be given out until the Friday before the public budget meeting on Feb. 9.
Two days over the weekend is lots of time for both the council and the public to digest the information, right?
Then again maybe council will be given the proposed budget at the Jan. 25 meeting. One can always hope.
I urge everyone to at least call your favourite council member and let them know your views.
Better yet get a group together and attend the budget meeting.
The council has difficult decisions to make and need all the input that you can give.