The Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) held a public meeting on March 12 to receive input and answer questions on the five-year budget plan.
SPMRM announced a one per cent increase on property taxes for 2016, and forecasted growth of one and a half per cent in tax revenue because of 11 new single family homes in Sun Peaks.
Chief administrative officer Rob Bremner said Sun Peaks benefits from approximately 38 per cent of the funds generated from property taxes, which is much less than most B.C. communities. Typically at least 50 per cent of the property taxes remain in communities, but SPMRM receives less money because of levies to the Thompson Nicola Regional District and the provincial education fund.
Due to the planned construction of the new rink and new health centre, 2016 has the largest total revenue of $5,235,463 and the largest total expenses at $2,344,060. The health centre is the highest cost at $1.5 million with the rink as the second highest at $799,000.
Both projects will be built without incurring debt as they are funded by grants and reserve funds. The rink will be funded by approximately 90 per cent in grant money, which Bremner said is nearly unheard of.
“To have these without borrowing, with just all grants, it just doesn’t happen,” Bremner said. “Those are two key facilities if you’re really building a community.”
“Very seldom do you get money in this day and age to get recreation facilities. They’ll give you money to upgrade them, but they won’t give you money to build them.”
The third major expense in the five-year budget is a new $350,000 fire truck, which is a part of the 2017 budget plan. Bremner said the plan is to order the new vehicle in 2016 and have it in Sun Peaks next year.
One cause for concern is the potential end of the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funds, which are slated to cease after 2017. The program takes tourism dollars through a hotel tax and recycles the money back into tourism-based communities to fund infrastructure and events.
The RMI funds were of the driving funding behind Tourism Sun Peaks’ summer concerts which increased summer business, but SPMRM has already seen a cut in the RMI totals because of a newly enforced cap. The province also mandates 70 per cent of the funds must be spent on infrastructure. However for 2016, SPMRM has received approval to have a 50-50 split between infrastructure and events and then switch to the provincial standard in 2017.
“We’re starting to get some property that we can actually put some money into. They allowed us to kind of work outside the parameters because we didn’t own anything,” Bremner said, referring to previous years’ allocation to only events.
“It would be a huge loss, it’s such a great program.”
There is a push, led in part by Mayor Al Raine, to see the provincial government continue the program past 2017. Municipalities would like to have more control over how to spend the funds.
“We’re telling you for our community, these are the best things,” Bremner said. “Council is elected, they’re saying ‘these are the things we want to do’ and we should be able to do them. There will be some push that way.”
Other expenditures to note in 2016 are $40,000 for security cameras, $60,000 for a zamboni and garage, $75,000 for a new valley trail (see p. 7) and $142,000 for RMI
The final 2016 budget will be approved before May 15.