District of Vanderhoof - Council Message

February 2011

Where our tax dollars go

It is that time of year again when we start to turn the corner away from the heart of winter and begin to glimpse in the not so far distance the flirtations of spring. However, as is the case when dealing with Mother Nature, a couple of not so gentle reminders that winter will not be leaving without a fight is expected. Alas, a large snowfall here and a cold snap there is the norm we have come to expect in our region and community at this time of year. As with the expected cycle of our seasons, it also is the time of year again when Council begins its annual series of discussions and meetings regarding the 2011 budget for our community, the first one of which was held this past Monday, February 21, 2011.

Over the course of the next several weeks Council will divide the budget formulation process into two phases: one dealing with operations; and, one dealing with capital expenditures. As you are aware, Council is responsible for the allocation of tax dollars that support the day-to-day operation of the community, support short term and long term initiatives, and support various community groups and organizations. Council approaches this responsibility very seriously and diligently, and always with the interest of the taxpayer front and centre. Balancing the needs of service and growth with levels of taxation is nothing new, however, Council has and continues to encourage feedback from you—the individual taxpayer, business owner, and community group—to aid in this process.

In regards to taxation, in the first year of this Council's term the portion of your tax bill that the District of Vanderhoof directly influences was reduced by 1%. In year two, this portion was left unchanged with no increase or decrease in taxation. Now, in year three, Council has started discussions related to funding and the associated taxation implications.

To give you a sense of where your tax dollars go, the approximately $5.1 million budget for 2011 is to be allocated into the following areas: capital projects/initiatives; administration; economic development (examples include financial support for grant writer, tourism marketing tools, industrial land inventory, airport marketing plan); policing reserve (dollars set aside for the day when our population exceeds 5000 persons and a large percentage of policing costs become the responsibility of the community); airport; garbage services; cemetery; parks; arena; cultural (examples include financial support for groups such as the Historical Society, Nechako Valley Exhibition Society, Library, Air Cadets); recreation (examples include financial support for the leisure fair, community leisure guide, recreation programs); fire department; protective services (examples include financial support for Crime Stoppers, Search & Rescue, animal control, Vanderhoof Crime Watch); equipment reserve; water; and, sewer. The examples provided are only a small piece of the overall budget; however, I am confident you, the taxpayer, can readily appreciate the large number of items present in a yearly budget. Each of these will be discussed at length by Council, with input from the community, in terms of how to proceed with either static, added, reduced, or removal of financial support from the District of Vanderhoof. All of this ultimately determines your level of taxation at the end of the day.

Fiscal responsibility and accountability are mandates of Council; however, to facilitate and support Council with such mandates, your feedback and opinion is requested and always welcome. I hope this has provided you a small glimpse into the budget process and a sense of where your tax dollars are allocated. As always, if you have the time, come to a Council meeting and see first hand your local government at work.

Councillor Darren Carpenter