Tax hike proposed for budget; Parcel tax could kickstart Transportation For Tomorrow

District councillors will meet on the funding plan for Transportation for Tomorrow while proposed budget calls for 2.85 tax hike

The District of Lake Country will be asked to pick one of four options to fund the 20-year, $30-million Transportation for Tomorrow Plan at a special budget meeting on Tuesday.

District staff is recommending a proposal that would levy a $100 parcel tax in 2016 following by a series of tax increases over three years beginning in 2017, to raise the $30 million dollars necessary to deal with its 200 kilometres of roads, many of which are aging and in need of repair.

The parcel tax would collect around $500,000 for the first year of the Transportation for Tomorrow Plan.

“This would give us an opportunity to begin the program with some confidence that targeted projects be executed and completed in accordance with the programs identified in the Transportation for Tomorrow Plan,” wrote Lake Country chief administrative officer Alberto De Feo in a report to council.

Along with the one-time parcel tax to begin implementing the plan, the recommendation calls for subsequent tax hikes in 2017, 2018 and 2019 at a rate of aproximately 2.27 to 2.32 per cent.

On top of that council will also meet on its regular 2016 budget on Tuesday which at this time is proposing a 2.85 per cent tax increase next year.

The Transportation For Tomorrow funding strategy is separate from the budget discussions.

According to the report, the Transportation For Tomorrow Plan requires $1.5 million for roads and active transportation infrastructure. Council has already approved the allocation of $350,000 from the annual Gas Tax allowance for the program. The remaining $1.15 million will be directly collected from the district taxpayers.

Based on a study from Urban Systems, the amount required to cover the cost of the program equates to $214 (plus $1 to administer the program for a total of $215) per household per year.

The consultant has put together four recommendations in total, all of which are hybrid options that include both a parcel tax followed by property taxes.

De Feo said the Transportation For Tomorrow plan is critical and called on council to come to a unanimous decision, adding delaying the collection will affect schedules and costs.

“Any decision on the financial implementation of this program will have a long lasting impact on the taxpayers. However, this is also a great benefit to the community and shows the sense of proactive leadership that has guided council in the last five years,” he wrote. “We fully appreciate the challenges council faces to make such an important decision…there are numerous options that can be elaborated. This would be very time consuming and could potentially delay this program further. We do appreciate that a collegial, unanimous decision of council would be preferred. By the same token, the community is in need of this program and we wish to bring it to conclusion.”

Lake Country council will also deal with its regular budget on Tuesday with the proposed budget including a 2.85 per cent increase.

The budget meeting is open to the public and begins Tuesday at 4:30.

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