Community growth increases municipal budget

After a strong 2017 Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) is working with a bigger budget than ever before. In 2018 the total expected revenue is over almost $9.5 million and expenses totalling just over $6.5 million.

This includes $204,163 spent on long-term debt financing, $271,945 in transfers to reserves and $2,471,545 in capital projects.

Last year SPMRM approved 34 building permits which amounted to $21 million in construction. They also completed a number of their own projects including finishing the Sun Peaks Health Centre, adding solar panels to the Sports Centre, purchasing a new fire pumper truck, starting the sewage treatment plant expansion and beginning the Sun Peaks Housing Authority (SPHA) and Development Cost Charges bylaw.

Last year also saw large increases in residential and commercial property’s assessed value, an average of an 18 per cent increase. Townhomes and condos saw the biggest increase with an average of 25 per cent.

The 2018 budget reveals even more growth in the community. SPMRM predicted 15 per cent growth in 2018 and 10 per cent in 2019.

The increases will impact property taxes with municipal taxes expected to rise two per cent depending on the assessed value of the property home. Within those taxes the regional district taxes are increasing eight per cent and hospital nine per cent. As of the budget meeting the school tax increase was unknown.

Increases are expected in multiple budget items. Insurance costs increased due to the ice rink and health centre, legal costs increased from changes to short-term rentals and the SPHA, planning costs increased to work with zoning consultants and a traffic engineer to improve roads, and new equipment purchased for the fire hall.

Another larger cost is the addition of a full time bylaw officer for seven day a week coverage that will focus on enforcing noise bylaws and nightly rentals.

The Health Centre and the purchase of Sun Peaks Utilities made significant changes to the budget and five year plan.

While the family practice is yet to be profitable, or even break even, losses are mainly covered by fundraising from the Sun Peaks Health Association. SPMRM expected the centre to cover all of its costs in 2020.

SPMRM chief administrative officer Rob Bremner said despite the costs he thinks the service to the community is great and worth it.

Purchasing the water and sewer utilities also impacted the budget, adding additional staff and increased costs but also increased revenue. The gas utility is still owned by Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR) with a user agreement for the municipality to run it for costs and an administration fee.

A similar agreement is in place for the municipal owned sports centre to be operated by SPR with all losses or profits to be shared.

SPMRM holds $272,948 in long-term debt which was inherited when they incorporated. The debt is for two long term loans, one for a fire truck and one for firehall additions.

They also hold just over $500,000 in reserves with few statutory reserves, meaning they are able to be used as needed rather than restricted to specific uses.
The budget must be adopted by May 15, 2018.