The 2013 Budget and corresponding property taxes follow a set of guiding principles to chart a course for the long-term financial health and well-being of our community. These guiding principles are:
The end result is acceptance of an increase in taxation for 2013 of 9.2%. The effect of this increase on the average residential assessment is 10.2% and on the average business assessment is 10.4%.
Without a doubt, this budget has been a challenging one; however it is a responsible one. The decisions made today will positively bear fruit in years to come. The District of Squamish is committed to pursuing sustainable financial management. Read the 2013-2017 Financial Plan.
Council established a number of strategic priority areas and primary targets for performance over their term of office. Those priorities are built on the Official Community Plan and heavily emphasize economic development, business process improvement, transit, and communications. From an economic development perspective, Council is committed to revitalization of the downtown and the development of the Squamish oceanfront property.
1. Contributions to Capital Projects, Reserves and Debt Service
The increase in contributions to capital projects, reserves and debt service directly addresses long-range financial goals. Squamish, like most municipalities in Canada, is addressing the deferral of sound financial asset management principles. Currently the District relies heavily on debenture borrowing to replace and refurbish capital but it is not financially sustainable to continue that practice indefinitely.
The 2013-2017 Financial Plan begins to address the direct funding of projects rather than financing from long-term debt. In 2013, $1.4 million in capital projects will be funded directly versus $1 million funded in prior years. This amounts to the equivalent of a 2% increase to taxes, following the principle of saving or paying for it today versus placing all the burden on future generations.
The District of Squamish is phasing in a 70% cost sharing to a 90% cost sharing relationship with the RCMP. This impact is being smoothed over four years by a draw from provisions of $500,000, $300,000 and $100,000 in 2013 through 2015.
The CUPE and IAFF union contract labour rate increases (CUPE settled, IAFF still pending) will be offset by a two year draw from the provision previously established in order to smooth the potential impact on 2013 taxation.
Zoning fee revenues vary from year to year depending on development activity, and 2013 is reflecting a $205,000 reduction in fees, partially offset by a $60,000 increase in building inspection fees.
Grants in lieu of taxation are declining by $130,000 due to reductions in property value assessments.
Three new services are being contracted with BC Transit to start in 2013. These services include enhanced Sunday and holiday service, extended evening hours, and service from Tantalus Road directly to Downtown.
Various service level changes impact the tax requisition in 2013, some of which are offset by savings through staff attrition and other means. Full details of the changes that impact each of the budget areas are outlined in section 4 of the 2013-2017 Financial Plan.
Council has recognized the need to discontinue the funding of one-time projects from “savings”. Prior years, where a high number of special projects were planned, were considered an anomaly. Draws from accumulated surplus and other provisions were therefore budgeted to partially offset the cost and prevent an increase in taxation. Although the projects differ from year to year, the annual dollar amount associated with special projects has not declined. In fact, special projects identified in 2013 exceed 2012 levels. Budget pressures this year frustrated the ability to cease the practice of funding from savings entirely, but we’re moving in the right direction.
Special Project examples for 2013 include:
The capital plan continues to be ambitious for 2013 through 2017. The District is challenged to rectify significant deferred maintenance for all major infrastructure while remaining within the municipality’s financial means. Long range planning is in progress to find the right balance between capital requirements and tax and user rate affordability and stability.
February 23, 2017
District of Squamish aims to combat ‘build first ask permission later’ mentality with new surcharge
Initiating work in Squamish without a permit now comes with a costly consequence.
February 17, 2017
Squamish Murals Project aims to bring colour and creativity to public spaces
Public spaces throughout Squamish will soon be transformed into permanent works of art thanks to a new public art project...