Council holds public consultation meeting on budget

The district held a special public consultation meeting on the budget March 15



The District of Mission has not presented a budget with a zero per cent tax increase in at least 38 years, said Mayor Ted Adlem last night at a special council meeting to garner public input.

That’s according to anecdotal conversations with long-time residents like Coun. Larry Nundal, who said he’s never heard of a budget going forward without a tax increase.

“Council has a taxpayer-in-mind philosophy with regards to municipal finances,” said Coun. Tony Luck, finance chair.

The achievement was no small task, as a Nov. 3 draft budget document from the district’s finance department indicated there would be a 6.18 per cent tax increase.

Instead, staff in almost every department were asked to create a base budget at 90 per cent of 2011 levels, eventually resulting in $1.6 million in savings. This was done, said Luck, with minimal impact to jobs and services.

The fire department, for example, opted to do its own janitorial work in the fire halls to save $16,000, which will allow the district to keep the Leisure Centre open on statutory holidays.

“Initially this may mean some difficult priority-setting and choices, but in the end our community is better insulated against economic downturns if we’re living within our means,” said Luck, adding the Core Services Review contract, announced Wednesday as going to Acton Counsulting Ltd., will likely end up making Mission one of the leaders in local governments’ response to greater fiscal accountability in the region.

That doesn’t mean all homes in Mission will see no tax increase. As explained by finance director Ken Bjorgaard, BC Assessment’s average valuation change for homes in the district increased by 0.07 per cent, which means that taxes will rise or fall based on that benchmark.

As well, municipal taxes account for only 59 per cent of a residential tax bill, since the district collects taxes for regional partners on their behalf.

The district has enacted several temporary cost-saving measures during the three-month Core Services Review, set to finish in June, including a hiring freeze, a freeze on council remunerations, and a voluntary tax contribution on 2012 tax bills. This will enable “those who would like to see projects that are off the side of municipal core services still move forward using a voluntary funding process,” said Luck.

Bjorgaard explained the process of how the district was able to get to a zero budget, which included $220,000 in savings from RCMP integrated teams under the new contract with B.C. that will see the federal police force pick up 20 per cent more of the tab.

The total budget will be $58.9 million, the same as in 2011, with $7.35 million in capital spending projects, including $1 million in energy efficiency upgrades, $1.1 million in pavement upgrades, and $1.8 million in vehicles and equipment replacement.

The district has a debt of $19.425 million, but is in a relatively healthy position with a $158 million borrowing limit, said Bjorgaard.

Tax revenue from new construction is forecast to be higher in non-residental projects in 2012 for the first time in many years.

Bjorgaard also said the need to bring reserves up to meet future capital spending plans should be helped by a projected $600,000 surplus in 2012.

“We understand there’s going to be major water and sewer infrastructure upgrades in the medium term,” he said, adding that’s why water and sewer rates will be both be rising two per cent in 2012.

As water becomes a greater priority for the district, Adlem said they will look into an incentive program that would see homeowners be retrofitted with water meters.

“Are we going to go out and spend a lot of money on water meters? No. But we’re going to offer incentives to people to have them put in,” he said.

Several residents asked questions and made suggestions following the presentation by Bjorgaard, including Pam Alexis who was concerned about cuts to the district’s Cultural Resources Commission. Following a motion by Coun. Nelson Tilbury, that funding was restored.

All detailed budget information can be found on the district’s website.

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada. (ADOBE STOCK IMAGE)
Shining a light on brain injury in Canada

June is Brain Injury Awareness Month

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read