FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Attendance was fairly low at last night’s public meeting showcasing the City of Fort St. John’s 2018 Capital and Operating Budgets.
Acting City Manager David Joy presented a final version of the budgets he previously unveiled last November and in January. According to Joy the City’s Operating Budget, which covers the cost of running the City day-to-day, is essentially unchanged from last year’s with an increase from $58.9 million to $59.1 million.
With the drop in housing prices in the last year, Joy said that the city is going to be increasing property tax rates by 2.17 percent in order to keep revenues the same as in 2017. However, as explained by Joy using the average home value of $387,000, residents whose properties kept their values would only see a $39.89 increase to their property tax bill, which works out to a jump of 11 cents per day. Residents whose home values fell by around the average of just under five percent would pay roughly the same this year.
Moving over to the Capital Budget, Joy said that the City is due to get an average of $26.4 million over the next five years from the Peace River Agreement, which it spends on infrastructure. This year the City forecasts spending around $57.1 million on its Capital Program, which includes $4.1 of the $6.2 million total of renovating Centennial Park, and over $3 million on the construction of a new RCMP building.
Before Joy’s presentation during the public meeting, the City held a drop-in session for residents looking to ask questions or get clarifications on certain aspects of the budget. In total, four residents came out to the drop-in session, one of whom was an employee of a local contractor attending to get an idea of the City’s upcoming capital projects. Only two residents stayed to hear Joy’s presentation.
Councillor Trevor Bolin said that he wished more people came out to ask questions and get clarifications after seeing several posts on social media on the topic.
“I would love to see more people there. The liquor store zoning change request was a prime example of people using their passion for something they’re for or against and showing up in the hundreds over that. And then we’ve got something as big as our annual budget and our five-year plan, it would be great if people took the same passion for that.”