Balancing the budget

Summerlanders can expect to pay a little more in taxes and utility rates this year.

Summerlanders can expect to pay a little more in taxes and utility rates this year.

The proposed municipal budget, which will come before council at the regular meeting on Feb. 23, includes a three per cent property tax increase as well as increases to utility rates.

While tax increases and fee increases are never pleasant, they are necessary.

Inflation alone means the cost of running any organization will increase slightly from one year to the next.

This means a government which chooses to do without an increase will have less spending power available than in the previous year.

In addition to rising costs, there are also capital projects and maintenance expenses which will add to total budget for the year.

The budget proposal this year has capital projects topping $2.24 million.

The most expensive of these is the Garnett Valley water system separation project, with a total cost of $559,472. Even with funding from grants and statutory reserves, the work will have a significant cost for the municipality.

Other projects include a fire department training facility, at a cost of $147,138, road and sidewalk work at $150,000, drainage work from Morrow Avenue to Prairie Creek at $105,530 and the expansion of the trail network at $150,000.

These and other projects are necessary.

Tightening the belt and putting off capital projects and maintenance work will mean the work must be done at a later time and likely at a higher cost.

For a typical homeowner, the total impact of the increases proposed for this year has been calculated at $106.51.

This works out to a little more than 29 cents a day.

While all public budgets and spending must be considered carefully, the effect of a three per cent property tax increase is small.