Lantzville residents will likely escape a property tax increase this year.
The district’s committee of the whole recommended no tax increases for this year’s budget, with surplus money be used to offset costs.
Lantzville Mayor Colin Haime said although the economy was a factor for some member’s recommendation, the main reason is the philosophy councillors adopted regarding spending habits.
“Accumulating additional funds would just be a case of taxation without a purpose,” said Haime. “We believe that [surpluses] provide us with enough of a cushion to cover off any unforeseen expenses.”
As a relatively new municipality, Haime said council has made conservative budgets. It has $1.7 million in surplus funds, generated by unpredictable budgeting areas such as road maintenance.
“Roads was a bit of a shot in the dark about how much we would pay for repairs. In past years we came into surplus,” said Haime.
Tax increases for people in Lantzville will come from the Regional District of Nanaimo, which will pay for services such as transit and recreation.
“From our standpoint, an increase on all sides wouldn’t be fair to the taxpayer,” said Haime.
The original budget called for a three-per cent increase. The status quo tax rate still has to be approved by council..
Large capital projects include the possible expansion of Phase 2 of the district’s sanitary sewer collection system to 42 properties thanks to about $700,000 remaining in grants from the initial project. The district is currently surveying residents for interest. The project would also be funded through local area service fees. Another project is the expansion of trails along the E&N rail. However, council is awaiting news about a Town of Tomorrows grant, which is necessary for the project to proceed.
Changes can still be made to the budget before it is ratified in the first week of April.
During Lantzville’s Monday night meeting committee of the whole members voted to construct a new washroom building in Lantzville’s Huddlestone Park.
Haime said the park is popular with parents, children and as a community destination for events such as birthday and anniversary celebrations.
“It’s a nice place to sit on a nice summer day,” said Haime.
The estimated cost is $35,612 with a maintenance budget of $750 a year. The new washroom is estimated to generate a savings of $1,300 per year. The current washroom is similar to Porta Potty and must be pumped out regularly. Washroom lighting and a timed door locking mechanism will be powered by solar panels. The lock allows people inside to exit as usual.
Price comparisons were made between the solar panel and connecting the washroom to hydro. Haime said the costs were about equal to connecting the building to the electrical grid because a hydro pole would have needed to be built. He said the committee adopted the greener alternative.