The 2024-2028 plan is available for public review, with in-person discussions scheduled. The budget proposes property tax increases of about 9% for 2024 and utility rates up an average of 3.7%.

The District of Squamish is seeking public comments on its next financial plan, which proposes that property taxes are expected to rise in 2024 and beyond.

According to a news release, the draft 2024 to 2028 financial plan is now available for public review. It outlines the municipality’s operating costs, capital plan, funding sources, tax rate and utility rate impacts over the five-year period and can be viewed at letstalksquamish.ca/budget-2024

The proposed 2024 budget is $167.8 million.

Moreover, it proposes a property tax revenue increase of 8.9% in 2024, an average of $213 per residential unit, and an average utility rate increase of 3.7%. Increases are expected each year in the upcoming plan. 

“We are at a point in time where the town has significant financial requirements. We’re predicting that property tax increases in the range of 8 to 9% may be sustained for the next few years—it’s more costly than before to offer the same services,” said Mayor Armand Hurford in the release. 

“We are investing heavily in facility and infrastructure upgrades; and we are building reserves to ensure future councils are well prepared for the financial needs of the future and can be better positioned to address the challenges of asset (and facility) replacement.”

Some of the new facilities the plan invests in include Fire Hall No. 2, Public Works Facility, and Brennan Park Recreation Centre Phase 1 upgrades. Outside of new facilities, there are also infrastructure upgrades as well as three additional buses to increase the frequency of the 1 Brackendale and 2 Highlands routes and weekend service.

While those potential facility upgrades have put pressure on the financial plan, the release states the primary pressures on finances are cost increases from inflation and supply chain challenges.

“District staff have taken a thoughtful and measured approach to addressing these pressures and have made tremendous efforts to offset inflationary pressures, delay or re-consider projects and expenses, maximize funding from other sources, delay debt issuance through cash flow management and temporary borrowing, and utilize tax stabilization opportunities,” said the general manager of Financial Services, Heather Boxrud, in the release. 

The news release notes about $3.5 million is coming from community amenity contributions from developers for new amenities such as Brennan Park playground, No Name Road park, and Valleycliffe Childcare building.

Dates to talk about the budget with council members and District staff

The District is offering numerous events where interested Squamish residents can learn and ask questions about the draft budget.

On Wednesday, Nov. 1, the District is hosting three Coffee with council events:

  • 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Bean Around the World on 41340 Government Road in Brackendale
  • 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. at The 55 Activity Centre on 1201 Village Green Way
  • 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Common on 38016 Cleveland Ave.

On Tuesday, Nov. 14, there will be a budget open house, presentation and a Q&A session at Howe Sound Secondary School from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m., and the open house with information boards and one-on-one discussions with council and District staff will start at about 7:30 p.m.

The following day, Nov. 15, Mayor Hurford is hosting another drop-in event from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Municipal Hall.


 


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