Almost every council decision comes with the subtext question, “Can we afford it?” Everything not procedural or administrative is usually about the cost. Who pays, whose budget does it come from, is the money in reserves, can we get funding, can we use development charges, will it raise taxes, are there other options, are there partnerships – all these questions run through most discussions.
Will it raise taxes? That’s crucial. No one wants to pay more.
The economic path is simple: property owners pay taxes, municipalities spend them. Almost all of the money a municipality gets comes from the taxpayers; a small amount comes from service users (people use facilities, rent venues, pay parking fees, dog licences, etc.) and some comes from grants from higher-tier governments.
It’s council’s responsibility to ensure that the money is spent wisely.
On June 10, council made a decision on how to spend the dividend from the sale of 50% of our electrical utility – Collus. That June 10 agenda was accompanied by a report by the treasurer that had been presented previously, on Feb. 25. It documented the responses from the public on the uses of these funds, and included comment on some of them.
The total amount of money available from that sale was approximately $14.45 million. The town has on hand $12.28 million in cash and $1.71 in a promissory note ($13.99M total).
Council voted 8-1 to use the funds to pay for the new recreational facilities (approx. $9.8 M) and put the rest into a reserve to upgrade Hume Street (the latter vote was unanimous).
Any other decision would have meant raising taxes in 2014 to cover the costs of the rec facilities. It really was all about the taxes.