Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) has been preparing the preliminary 2023 budget, which will include increases to taxes and water utility rates.
On Dec. 6, council held a workshop to discuss objectives and considerations for the budget. The main objectives identified were to maintain existing levels of service, limit new debt, address organizational and policy needs, refocus five year capital planning, update fees and development cost charges and successfully transfer the health centre.
Another objective is to continue ongoing capital projects such as the daycare, community plaza, stage, pool, East Village trail network planning and Sun Peaks Centre enhancements. Council will also need to consider road improvements and snow removal when budgeting.
In order to meet these objectives, a five to 10 per cent tax increase will be required. Municipal staff are recommending a 7.5 per cent increase.
The presentation pointed out that increases are especially important since less than 40 per cent of property taxes fund municipal services — the rest goes to services such as the regional district, school, hospital and police. Every tax increase of one percent creates about $23,000 in additional revenue.
The biggest expenditure for the municipality will be water and wastewater. The recent construction of SPMRM’s surface water reservoir has been beneficial. However, upgrades for the water and wastewater systems are still required to maintain and improve the existing system and address capacity issues.
The current funding model will not produce enough revenue to fund the necessary upgrades. In the workshop, it was recommended to increase both water and wastewater utility fees by 10 per cent.
At the Dec. 6 meeting, Urban Systems gave a presentation on the cost estimate for continuing water and wastewater upgrades. The recommended water source, treatment and distribution upgrades would cost a total of $22.4 million, in addition to about $19.2 million for wastewater.
SPMRM can seek grants to cover large portions of these costs, but there are too many projects to receive funding for them all.
In the workshop, the municipality estimated it would spend around $2.1 million in 2023 on water and wastewater.
The preliminary budget will be brought to council for final discussion and approval at the Dec. 20 council meeting. The final 2023 budget and tax increases will be approved in the spring.