1.68 per cent tax increase proposed for Mission

2016 budget discussions also call for one per cent increase to water fees and four per cent for sewer.

A municipal tax hike of less than two per cent has been proposed for Mission in 2016.

Kerri Onken, deputy treasurer collector for the district, made the 2016 financial plan presentation to council during Monday night’s public meeting.

She revealed that council is considering a 1.68 per cent municipal tax increase, which equals $488,967 in new revenue, along with a one per cent increase in water user rates and four per cent increase in sewer user rates.

That equates to an approximate increase of about $50 a year for the average Mission homeowner – based on a home value of $390,000 –  although several outstanding factors could change that figure depending on new assessment values and other levies, including school board, library, Fraser Valley regional hospital and other yearly charges that have yet to be finalized.

Council will now seek public input on the proposed increases in hopes of approving the budget sometime in December.

The 2016 financial plan includes consolidated operating budgets totaling $65.2 million and capital budgets totaling $10.85 million.

The 1.68 per cent tax increase is proposed to:

Increase the transfer, by $290,000, to capital reserves, to help fund future projects;

Fund one new RCMP officer;

And to cover contractual increases:

“Building up the district reserves will provide flexibility and will allow the district to fund capital projects internally and avoid future external borrowing and related interest charges,” explained Onken.

The proposed 2016 budget allows for $11.74 million to be transfered to reserves. Onken said that will help the district continue its “pay as you go” philosophy when it comes to capital projects.

“Saving ahead for projects is preferable to debt financing.”

The district’s current long-term debt is $6.8 million, as of December 31, 2014.

An example of some of the capital projects listed in the 2016 budget include:

New artificial turf field – $2.9 million

Road paving – $2.8 million

Water main replacement – $1 million

Three dump trucks, one Zamboni – $924,395

Facility repairs – $576,614

New skateboard park – $440,000

As part of the proposed 2016 budget, a new  drainage utility fee has been given approval in principle.

“The district’s drainage program has significant challenges in terms of providing adequate funding for maintenance replacement and upgrading of critical drainage systems,” said Onken.

While details of the fee have yet to be finalized, the goal is to create a drainage capital reserve fund. A total of $98,785 will be transfered to the new drainage reserve in 2016 and an additional $100,000 will fund a drainage inspection program.

Different funding models are still being examined.

Mayor Randy Hawes said the fund is needed to prepare for future drainage repairs.

“If you don’t set aside money to do that, you can get hit with some very, very nasty surprises and no money to fix it.

“Council has looked at that and thought the smartest thing to do is begin planning for that day when we have big replacement issues.”

The public is invited to make their views known by filling out the budget questionnaire online at mission.ca/budget or call 604-820-3717.

Council will debate the budget on November 18 and discuss public input.