SUMMING IT UP: Grand Forks City Council
Taxes, branding, and water metering were all on the table at Grand Forks city council.
The tax bylaws, introduced at council on May 7, were passed in a final reading at a special meeting on May 15. The overall impact for the average homeowner will be about a four percent increase or for a home worth $230,000 about $32.10. (Council sets tax rates at least impact for home owners).
On a recommendation from the economic development advisory committee for the city, councillor Gary Smith revived a motion that was tabled at their Apr. 22 meeting. The motion was to take a part of a budget that had been approved to build signs for the city and use it to create a marketing brand. The tabled motion was for $5,000, an amount that Smith said was inadequate. He amended the motion to allocate $30,000 for branding and removed any reference to restrictions on who could be hired.
“The economic development advisory is composed of a broad range of people, stakeholders basically, it seems a shame that we should second guess them right off the bat,” said Smith referring to council’s lack of support at their last meeting for the committee’s recommendations. “I think it’s essentially demoralized the group. We’ve got people there who are experts in their fields and the consensus around that table is that branding is the key thing before we do anything else.”
Mayor Brian Taylor stood behind the proposal that moves half of the sign budget over to branding.
“I think this is an issue of identity for the town and there’s been a lot of thinking that’s gone into where we start the ball rolling here which is not just a sign, not just a design but I think if this comes together it will be money well worth spent,” Taylor stated.
Councillors Krog and Wyers both registered their votes against the project.
“The branding and the economic development, it’s too early in their tenure,” said Wyers. “I agree with councillor Krog, we need some guidelines for the branding. I just feel it’s too early for that particular request, and by diverting money from the sign project.”
The proposal was passed leaving the committee with the responsibility to move forward with a call for proposals from potential consultants.
Water metering, recommended by cities facing water restrictions that need to monitor water use closely but always unpopular with residents, is a goal for the city. The requirement was laid out in a report completed for the city as a part of funding requirements for a grant by the province of B.C.
According to the staff report from Sasha Bird, manager of technical services, the city has completed the water conservation plan, water system audit and demand management plan and the drought management and conversation plan. Each of the studies supported the implementation of a universal water metering program to reduce water consumption.
Council approved a funding application to install water meters by accessing their gas tax funds held by the province. The project’s entire cost will be covered by the grant – $1,216,800.
The next council meeting is set for May 28.