Another lean budget for Chilliwack in 2012

Chilliwack's 2012 Financial Plan contains a modest tax hike, and an increases to policing and fire protection services.

Keeping on top of inflationary pressure is going to mean a 3.44 per cent tax hike for Chilliwack in 2012.

That’s down a notch from last year’s 3.45 per cent increase.

“It’s nice to see that it’s even lower than last year,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

It will also cover some reinvestment in infrastructure, increased service levels and support to community organizations.

It follows the trend of fiscal restraint in Chilliwack through “pay-as-you-go” financing and the proposed increase in taxes is lower than the 3.95 per cent tax hikes seen in both 2009 and 2010.

The 2012 Financial Plan was presented by operational services manager Chris Crosman at city council Tuesday, who noted there were increases to policing and fire protection services.

RCMP costs account for 30 per cent of taxation. The policing budget for 2012 has increased by $1.06 million or six per cent for one additional RCMP member, an information officer and exhibit staff support.

There are more members coming online with one additional member and a support staffer being hired in 2013 and two in 2014.

Fire services represents 9.3 per cent of taxation, Crosman pointed out, and the increase is $500,000, or 10 per cent, in 2012.

That will pay for two more firefighters in an effort to keep the Sardis fire hall staffed at all times with two firefighters. But in 2016, they’ll be phasing in 14 new firefighters.

Also on the way is more funding for buses and custom buses, as well as a road rehab program worth more than $1.1 million.

To assist with operating costs for the Sardis library, there’s $600,000 for startup books and equipment.

Storm drainage will also get a boost.

“We’re surrounded by rivers and we get a lot of rain,” Crosman said.

The storm drainage improvement program is for $350,000, phased in by 2015.

The tax increase of 3.44 per cent, which would mean an additional $50 for the average taxpayer, is also being projected for 2013 and 2014 as well.

Chilliwack residents are invited to offer feedback, in writing to budget@chilliwack.com or see the documents at www.chilliwack.com

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/CHWKjourno

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