Monday, March 7, 2016

Budgets and Taxes

2016 Budgets for Area A

Links to budgets:
The Area A specific budgets are at this link:
These are the services that only Area A property owners pay into or a part of Area A property owners pay into. (i.e. Bralorne Sewer is only 103 connections in the two townsites).

The entire SLRD financial plan is at this link.   Please note this includes all services for all areas, services that combine one or more areas (called shared services) and the services that everyone pays into (General Government, Planning & Solid Waste Management).

How it all works - budgets and taxes:
The major revenue sources for regional district services include property taxes, parcel taxes and fees and charges.  In electoral areas, such as ours, regional district taxes are collected by the BC Ministry of Small Business and Revenue.  Each year, the regional district submits tax requisitions for each service to the Ministry through the Inspector of Municipalities.  The Ministry applies a rate against assessed property values within each relevant service area to raise the revenue required.  Once collected, the revenues are paid to the regional district.

Your property tax notice will list a tax rate beside each of the listed services.  The amount owing is determined by multiplying the tax rate by the property's assessed value. The challenge comes in, I have found, in that they lump a whole bunch of the services in this area together on one line, and other services they show on a single line, so you really can't see exactly what you are paying for what.  This year, for the second year, the SLRD will include a notice in your taxes that explains Area A's Tax breakdown in more detail.   I support this as it provides more transparency and accountability to the community. If you are left to try and understand the Regional District portion of your taxes from the Tax Bill, good luck.

When you do get your tax notice you will see that the vast majority of your taxes each year go to school taxes and then smaller portions to the provincial government for general services and an even smaller portion goes to the regional district. If you have any questions about your tax notice please call me and I'll walk you through the part of your taxes that relate to the Regional District.

We have a number of services in Area A.  Some of them tax everyone in the Valley for Area A services, such as the Transfer Station, Library, Museum, Economic Development, Cemetary, Haylmore Site, Amenity Preservation.  Some of them tax specific taxpayers in certain areas, Bralorne Sewer, Bralorne Water, Gold Bridge Water, Bralorne Street Lights, Gold Bridge Street Lights, Gun Lake Fire Protection, Bralorne Fire Department.  There are also some services that everyone in the Regional District (Britannia Beach to Pavilion Lake and everywhere in between) pay into such as General Government and Planning.  We also have some services that our area, Lillooet and Area B share such as the Lillooet Rescue Service and the Lillooet Landfill. 

Each of these services are taxed and MUST be managed within their own little silo.  The regional district cannot by law, move money between services.  So each is like its own little business, and also by law, none of these services can run a deficit for any length of time.  So we must tax for what it costs to run them.  Additionally, the way and process that tax requisitions can be increased is strictly controlled by the Provincial Government by the Inspector of Municipalities.  The rules around how to increase tax requisitions would blow your mind and regional district's pretty much need one staff member who is an expert on all this stuff to navigate them.  However, the long and short of it is, the rules are for your protection as a taxpayer so that you can be assured that there is a process that goes along with each and every budget increase.

Highlights Budgets and Taxes - 2016This year the total assessment for Area A is up by about 4%.  
Some highlights of this year's budgeting are (if I don't mention something its because the tax requisition, parcel taxes or user fees are staying the same):
  • the 911 service (shared) tax requisition will DECREASE (yes go down!) by almost half
  • for the first time in 4 years the Library tax requisition will go up just over $1,000. Special thanks to Jean Shaw, Betty Weaver (overall system librarian) and Regan Dixon (Area A Library Trustee) for doing such a great job with our library.  We are also going to try to find ways to assist them with small capital using funds generated by the solar grid tied system on the roof.  We do not tax requisition for the building they are in, it self generates revenue (tenants).
  • Bralorne water, Bralorne sewer and Gold Bridge water services, although I have worked to gradually increase the revenue in these services are still far from collecting enough to put away a healthy capital reserve.  You can expect to see these services to have small increases every year in tax requisitions, user fees and so on.  To help build those reserves, I have recommended to the Board that $6,500, $3,500, $5,000 respectively be committed to each of these services from the re-allocated PILT funds.
  • Lillooet Rescue Service is shared between Area A, B and Lillooet.  This year the tax requisition will increase by about $8,000.  Area B director, Mayor Lampman and myself are going to meet with this society this year to review in detail their operations and their future plans.
  • The services that everyone in the SLRD pays into General Government has no increase , while the planning service has a very small increase in tax requisition.
Everything else is pretty much the same.

If you have any questions or comments please email me or give me a call in the next week.

Recognizing Russ Oakley - Area A Director for 15 years
Russ Oakley is the type of person I want to highlight as an example of the people who live in our area. Hard working, resilient, determined and honest. You may not always agree with an elected official, however you cannot deny their service and character. Thank you Russ for your service to our community.

The Squamish-Lillooet Regional District Board has supported my efforts to recognize the service of Russ Oakley both to our community and the entire Regional District.

Simon vs. the United States
On July 30, 2015, Bruce Simon, Bralorne Resident and business owner of Sally's Pub and The Mines Motel was arrested for transporting marijuana and MDMA into the United States.  Bruce was indicted on August 26 and denied bail.

Bruce initially pled non-guilty. However he changed his plea to guilty on November 3, 2015.

On February 19, 2016, Bruce was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison.

Sally's Pub and The Mines Motel is currently for sale.  Sally's Pub is closed.  The Mines Motel remains open.

I have included some key COURT documents from Washington State in roughly chronological order. They are not difficult to read or understand.



Defendant's Memorandum at Bail Hearing - includes support letters

Plea Agreement:

United States sentencing document:

Defendent sentencing document:

Defendent sentencing Support documents (letters of support from Bralorne community members, friends and family) :

Bralorne Sewer
If you missed all the hullabaloo about the funding announcement for the Bralorne Sewer you can find it here:  Sewers are a local government responsibility (i.e. SLRD).  I have had some folks wonder why improvements in the roads were not funded. Roads are a provincial responsibility - the person you need to bug about the roads is Jackie Tegart your MLA. (  BELIEVE ME :-) if I, as your local government rep had any control over funding/budgets going to roads, there would be improvements in both maintenance, safety & infrastructure improvements of our two access routes - Road 40 & the Hurley River FSR.  Report after report, person after person indicates our road access hampers our ability to sustain ourselves as a community.

I digress.  The SLRD staff have also send out an information letter to residents of Bralorne and everyone that receives mail here in the Valley..  If you did not receive it, you can read it here:

A lot of work goes into communicating about big news.  Here is what our staff did at the SLRD on our behalf:
*         Press release sent out on Friday 12 Feb, after the announcement
*         Facebook and twitter posts announcing grant and linking to our news release. (That reached 3216 people, inspired 412 clicks, and 96 likes, comments and shares as of February 19)
*         Mail sent to residents (attached letter)
o   132 copies of letter sent as unaddressed mail to Gold Bridge PO
o   75 copies sent via direct mail today to property owners who, according to BC Assessment Roll, had mailing address outside Bralorne

This is such positive news for the future of Bralorne, I want to express my thanks and highlight  our SLRD Communications and Utilities staff.  They do a great job for our rural community!