Public session on the 2017 Chilliwack budget got bumped until January

There are bold increases in policing and fire services, as well as road rehab and transit, with police costs accounting for 32 per cent

The public information hearing on the 2017 Financial Plan bylaw is now set for January 10

The public meeting on the 2017 Financial Plan at city hall just got postponed until after Christmas.

Coun. Chuck Stam questioned the timing of late December and suggested at Tuesday’s council meeting that it would make more sense to hold it in early January rather than competing with Christmas, if it could wait.

He was told the date could be bumped with no problem.

The public information hearing is now set for January 10, 7 p.m., at city hall.

With a proposed tax rate increase of 3.5% as part of the 2017 financial plan bylaw, it will mean an extra $60 in taxes for a typical Chilliwack home.

The budget covers bold increases in policing and fire services, as well as road rehab and transit, with policing costs accounting for 32 per cent of the budget.

The higher tax increase this year takes into account the rising costs of homelessness in Chilliwack, “such as increased security patrols, and the ongoing cleanup of garbage, needles and other discarded items” both downtown and in city parks, according to the report by Glen Savard, director of finance.

Ten new RCMP officers will be hired in 2017.

So about 1.75% of the 3.50% tax increase is for the base tax increase, while an extra 1.45% is the “net taxation impact” for the additional nine of 10 new RCMP officers.

Policing levels were in sharp focus, during the budget presentation.

“Chilliwack has higher criminal code offences, and higher crime rates,” according to the staff report by Savard.

It also has a correspondingly high caseload/per officer ratio, which is seen as problematic for officers taking proactive measures to clear cases if the trend continues.

The bylaw received first and second reading in a vote by council this week, and the date of the public meeting was set for Jan. 10.

All of the details about the financial plan, including budget presentations, and more are at www.chilliwack.com/budget.

Email mayor and council, or budget@chilliwack.com

 

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