Mission tax increase now at 1.36%

Council is expected to formally adopt the budget at an April 20 meeting.

Property owners in Mission are facing a 1.36 per cent tax increase this year.

After reviewing feedback from the public on the budget, district staff proposed an increase of 1.76 per cent, but council reduced that number further by cutting its proposed $504,000 council flexibility fund to $200,000 and eliminating any additional fee for service grants over last year’s level.

Coun. Danny Plecas noted the public favoured adding more police officers and improved public safety, but as a result, council committed close to $1 million in spending.

“My concern is we also took money slated to pay down debt to pay for some staffing components,” said Plecas.

“I want to be more cautious when we talk about flex money.”

Plecas suggested council let the public know what they are spending the flex money on, and any funds left over at the end of the year be put into a reserve account.

“I’m looking ahead to next year,” said Plecas.

Coun. Jenny Stevens shared her concerns on council spending. She explained the stabilization reserve is low and said council has used the $500,000 in reserves for early debt repayment in 2016.

She suggested holding off on hiring a second assistant fire chief, but it was not favoured by other council members.

Mayor Randy Hawes supported the reduction of the flex fund, and Coun. Pam Alexis proposed the removal of additional fee for service requests from three non-profit organizations, which totalled $12,450 or 0.4 per cent of the budget.

Non-profits that applied received the same value as last year, any additional requests were denied, said Keri Onken, deputy treasurer.

The value of an average Mission home is assessed at $390,500, and a 1.36 per cent increase would add another $24.64 to the property tax.

Water and sewer rates are also going up two per cent, which is $16.71 for residents on a flat rate. Tipping fees at the landfill will also increase by two per cent.

Council is expected to formally adopt the budget at an April 20 meeting.