A gorgeous weekend at last! I do hope you're getting a chance to enjoy it. I have been -- that is, when I'm not busy reading my council package.
YOUR RESIDENTIAL TAXES
By now, you've received your residential tax bill, and probably seen a substantial increase. As I mentioned in my May 8 update, because of the current economic climate, commercial assessments have dropped substantially. Residential assessments have dropped, too, but not as much. This, along with the commercial/residential tax split of 4.5:1 (voted by council on May 10) means that residents end up with more of the tax burden on them this year. So, even though the overall tax increase in town is 2.55% (after a 0% overall for 2009), residents have seen an average increase of 7.1%. If we had gone with a 4:1 tax split, as we had last year, the residential increase would have been 12.57%. I proposed a 5:1 split to council, which would have led to both commercial and residential having a 2.55% increase, but council felt that that split went too far in attempting to mask the true effects of assessment changes.
I've heard from a couple of people about their residential increases, and I'm willing to go through the decision-making process in detail with anyone who asks. I know that the taxation process, with budgets, assessments, mill rates and tax splits, can be a bit confusing. And no one likes to see a tax increase, at any time.
MONDAY'S COUNCIL MEETING
You can see the package for Monday's meeting at this link:
Proposed changes to the Taxi Bylaw
The questions of "when is a sedan a taxi?", "how many livery plates should there be", and "how should those plates be allocated if they come up for re-assignment?" are back before council. You can see the full series of reports starting on page 15 of the package, and a letter from an affected party starting on page 8. We will be hearing two delegations from affected parties at council, and there may be items in those presentations that cast more light on the subject. At present, though, I am tending to think that a car that behaves like a taxi (waiting at taxi stands, soliciting for walk-by business) is a taxi, and should be regulated as one.
I would be very interested to hear from any of you who have comments on the existing level of taxi service in town.
First quarter financial statements
Yes, I know, your eyes are glazing over again. But, if you're keen (as I am), you can take a look at this report starting on page 56 of the package, to see notes on the factors that are affecting the town's performance against budget. Some items have moved up, some down, but overall the forecast for year-end is very close to budget at this time.
Environmental incentive program
If you've thought about taking advantage of the town's rebate program for energy-efficient and water-efficient improvements to your home or business, you'll be interested to see the changes to the program that are being proposed starting on page 81 of the package. Proposals for adding to the rebate list include: energy-efficient doors and windows, Energy Star refrigerators, water heater insulator blankets, and solar water heating installations.
Finance committee startup meeting
This separate package: http://www.banff.ca/Assets/PDFs/Town+Hall+PDF/Council+Agendas+PDF/2010+Agendas+PDF/finance-agenda-100614.pdf
shows you the agenda for the first meeting of council's new finance committee. At this meeting, council will be deciding on what tasks the committee should focus on. A glance at the package will show you the list of tasks proposed. This new committee will have all councillors and the mayor as members, and will give council an opportunity to have more meeting time dedicated to financial planning, policy-setting and review. I'm pleased to see this proposal finally coming to fruition.
As has been the custom, in July and August, council will have one meeting per month rather than two. These meetings are on July 19 and August 16.
CHANCE FOR INPUT
Watch the paper for an announcement of the open house to launch Phase 2 of the Land Use Bylaw review. I will send out an email as soon as I know the date. I know that it's hard to go to a meeting when the weather's good, but this phase, dealing with commercial development, will be of interest and importance to all Banffites.
As I've mentioned a few times before, the fall election will soon be upon us.
As you saw in the paper this week, Mayor Stutz has announced that he will not be running again. We all owe John a debt of gratitude for his hard work over the past two terms (and previously on council). I hope you will take the opportunity to say "thanks" if you run into him over the next few weeks.
Councillors Gibson and Macdonald have already said that they are not running again, and Councillor Sorensen has informally announced that she intends to run for mayor (expect a formal announcement closer to the election). That means that at least three of the six available council seats will have no incumbents, making for a very wide-open race. I do hope that all of you are considering whether this is the right time for you to stand for election and serve your community, or whether you can encourage and support someone else you know who would be a good candidate.
At present, it's my intention to run for re-election as a councillor, assuming that life doesn't throw any surprises my way between now and the fall.