Invermere adopts 2013 balanced budget

Capital project upgrades planned including Laurier Street bridge, park improvements.

The District of Invermere (DOI) has announced the adoption of a balanced budget for 2013 with $2.5 million of the $7.2 million budget to be spent on capital improvements and upgrades over the next year.

“I think (the budget) is good, we’re proceeding with some important capital projects and at the same time trying to keep tax increases minimal and still set aside some money for reserves,” said DOI Invermere mayor Gerry Taft.

When choosing which capital projects or improvements to fund in a budget, the district first refers to what’s known as a tangible capital assets management program or policy. Invermere infrastructure, such as roads and water pipes, are carefully inventoried and documented, and then given an expected lifespan.

In any given year, the district has a long list of items to consider when allocating funds for capital improvements, and projects that are nearing the end of the lifespan are usually given priority.

Other factors influence the decision as well, such as council priorities, grants, available funding and general opportunity, but generally the tangible capital asset management plan is first step.

“What we’ve found though, and where we’ve been kind of lucky, is that a lot of things which theoretically the book says… should have a 40 year lifespan, what we’re finding and where it’s helping us, is in a lot of cases we’re getting longer use out of some infrastructure than is sort of suggested as being normal,” Taft said. “So we’re finding even though our tangible capital assets say this thing needs replacing in 2013 or 2014, when we do closer research… we’re finding out in actual fact that we can maybe add four, or five, or six more years.”

Chief among the capital projects slated for 2013 is an improvement to the 17th Street force main water pipe, for which the district has budgeted $600,000. Taft said that this particular project has been on their radar for quite some time, however after several unsuccessful grant applications the district has no choice but to move forward with the planned infrastructure renewal.

Other notable projects include $300,000 for the renovation of lift station #1, $210,000 for a water reservoir power generator, $200,000 for PVC liner for lagoon #1, $200,000 for de-sludging geo-textile bags, and $120,000 for preventative maintenance on the Laurier Street bridge.

The budget also includes the total cost of the planned Rotary Club Spray Park at Kinsmen Beach in the amount of $300,000, however that cost will not be passed on to the taxpayer. The district has agreed to pay for design costs while the Rotary Club will be attempting to raise the $300,000 over the next several years.

Other items of note include the planned improvement to Cenotaph Park, funding for electric car charging stations, and bear proof containers and dumpsters for Kinsmen Beach.

Also on the budget for 2013 is a two per cent tax increase, which for an average assessed district home valuing $404,058 equates to a $2.15 per month increase in municipal taxes. The “commercial” and “light industrial” tax rate ratio is also reduced from 2.75 times the residential rate to 2.72 times the residential rate. This shift in taxation will add approximately $5 to the annual tax bill of a single family residence, but will bring the commercial and industrial tax rate to less than the provincial average, according to a district release. The district will also see an estimated $171,000 in revenue as a result of the Hotel Tax, which is slated for projects within the Resort Development Strategy. The district has also met its carbon neutrality commitments and is carbon neutral for 2012.