Revelstoke Council mulls tax comparisons
Is it fair to compare Revelstoke’s property tax rates to other municipalities? That is the question council debated after it was presented by a report on property taxes throughout B.C.
The report was prepared by Graham Inglis, the city’s director of finance. It showed Revelstoke ranked 86th out of 161 municipalities for its residential tax rate, 18th in business tax rate, 53rd out of 74 municipalities for major industry tax rate; and that it’s average home value was 74th in the province.
Revelstoke’s general municipal and residential user fees based on average house value ranked 59th out of 161 municipalities.
But most councilors questioned the value of the information, noting there was little context to the numbers.
“Are we able to get peer communities that are somewhat similar to us?” asked Councillor Chris Johnston. “To compare us to Cranbrook, I don’t know how relevant that would be. The level of industrialization makes a huge difference.”
Coun. Gary Starling said it was difficult to compare the numbers between cities because you “have to really look at the criteria you’re using to compare.”
“If you look at it from one angle we look bad but you can look at it from another angle and it looks good,” he said. “It is good information to have but you have to take it with a grain of salt and take it for what it is.”
Coun. Steve Bender said it was necessary to look at the level of industrialization, the services provided and more to make a proper comparison. “The analysis it would take to get a good comparison could be endless,” he said.
Mayor David Raven said that pulling similar communities would introduce a bias to the numbers. “It has value comparing apples to oranges as long as you understand the differences in what you’re comparing,” he said.
Counc. Tony Scarcella disagreed. “I think you should compare apples to apples,” he said.
Fourth Street speed zone debated
Council heard a request to remove the playground speed zone restriction on Fourth Street East near Mt. Begbie Elementary school.
In a letter to council, Robyn Abear, asked if it was reasonable for drivers to be restricted to a 30 km/h speed limit every day of the year during daylight hours. She noted the playground was surrounded by a high fence and was located on a side street on the other side of the now-empty school and away from Fourth Street She pointed out that the new speed zone is more restrictive than the old one, when the school was open.
According to staff, the playground zone was the result of discussions between the city, the Parent Advisory Committee for MBE, and neighbourhood groups.
Council asked staff to look into the matter and come back with a report in two months. It was also noted that something should be done before heavier traffic hits the area during ski season.
“I think there should be more public say for how long its going to be, why, and all that because the public feels there was not enough consultation,” said Coun. Tony Scarcella.
New bylaws passed into law
Revelstoke council gave final approval to the city’s Community Energy & Emissions Plan and District Energy Enhancement Plan last week.
The former plan sets out a path for the city to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the future. The latter one sets out an expansion plan for the district energy system, which is run by the Revelstoke Community Energy Corporation.
The plans were adopted without any further debate. They had already gone through first and second reading, and extensive public consultation and hearings.
Council also adopted a new bylaw outlining off-leash dog areas. The bylaw creates an off-leash area around much of the Illecillewaet Greenbelt, though the paved walkway and the area immediately surrounding the Downie Marsh remain on-leash areas.
Simon Hunt new Emergency Co-ordinator
Simon Hunt, a wildfire management specialist with Parks Canada, has been named the new Emergency Coordinator for the City of Revelstoke.
“Simon has a great wealth of experience in education and emergency management as a result of his position with Parks Canada as a wildfire specialist,” Fire Chief Rob Girard told council. “Simon is also a resident of Revelstoke and he’ll bring to our team local knowledge and will become an asset to our emergency operations in Revelstoke.
Hunt will be in charge of the Revelstoke and Area Emergency Management Program, which monitors all risks to Revelstoke and handles the responses. He will start in his position at the beginning of 2013. He will remain in his job with Parks Canada.