Finance officer presents budget options

Finance officer presents budget options

(File photo)

By Lyonel Doherty

Oliver Chronicle

Oliver Town council will seriously consider approving a nine per cent tax increase when it reviews a number of budget options Tuesday.

Chief Financial Officer Devon Wannop has presented council with four budget scenarios.

Scenario 1 is a zero per cent increase, which does not take into account any savings plan for future RCMP cost increases.

Under this scenario, Wannop says there are more expenses than revenue, and that would have a negative effect on the Town’s capital budget reserves.

Scenario 2 is the one previously outlined by Councillor Dave Mattes, who suggested a nine per cent annual increase, in which the funds would be used for capital projects, such as sidewalks (over the next five years).

Under this scenario, the Town builds up its revenue base for the expectation of increased policing costs starting in 2022. At that time, the tax revenue will shift from capital projects to policing costs. (Once the Town surpasses 5,000 population, it must pay 70 per cent of policing costs instead of 30 per cent, which it is paying now.)

Scenario 3 presents a nine per cent annual increase. Six per cent of the increase would be allocated for policing and the remaining three per cent for capital projects over five years.

But again, Wannop noted this would also have a negative effect on capital budget reserves, resulting in relying on grants or borrowing to complete these capital projects.

Scenario 4 is a hybrid model incorporating scenario two and three.

Wannop said all of the scenarios have the same nine per cent impact to the taxpayer, but they vary depending on the way council allocates funds through capital projects or a policing reserve.

Wannop presented tax data that compares the Town of Oliver to other municipalities of its size. He noted that the mill rates that Oliver has are significantly lower than the average.

Comparing property taxes and user fees, Wannop said the Town of Oliver is, on average, lower than $2.1 million overall when compared to the average of all similar-sized municipalities.

The chief financial officer also pointed out that Oliver residents are paying on average $611.75 less a year than residents in similar sized towns.

The budget meeting on Tuesday starts at 2:30 p.m. in council chambers.