I wish to thank those who participated in the first town hall meeting. It was well attended and many good points were brought out. One of the issues I touched upon was this year?s property tax. Now that the assessment role is finalized, I can report in more detail what the taxes will mean for you this year. Council plans to raise the town?s reserves and needs a 12.5% increase to revenues to do that. However, you will note that based on the median home assessed value of $159,801, the homeowner will see only an increase of 5.35% on the tax bill over last year. This includes the regional hospital, school and police tax and all other charges. Since the tax assessments were frozen for this year, it should be easy to make the comparison. The increase to the individual was less than anticipated as our tax base has grown over the past year and has contributed to an overall lower tax rate.
At the northern municipal convention this month, which takes in cities and towns from 100 Mile House north, the delegates overwhelmingly supported the idea of a palaeontological research centre and museum. We are now able to take a resolution to the provincial convention and then lobby the government to be involved with this project.
Our efforts to reduce the spread of the pine beetle have met with some success but the level of infestation is overwhelming. Predicting what will happen this year is impossible. Tree removal around the town was initiated by BC Hydro to remove all pine trees within a tree-length of the power lines. This has been at no cost to the District and their project will assist us not only with the fight against the pine beetle but also will help with the wildfire interface issue.
I receive many inquiries about the dentist and would like to report that only one issue remains outstanding. We are making every effort to bring this much-needed service to town and to finalize the agreement.
The EDO and I attended a biomass conference in Vancouver where it was evident that the government is fully behind this process. We were the only municipality in BC which attended. Our presence generated interest in doing something in our area. I talked with the President of BC Hydro and made him aware of our end-of-the-line power situation. His response was positive and a biomass project fits as a viable solution. The Ministry of Energy and UNBC want to work with us on such a venture. I will provide more details as we work through the process.
And finally, I received an email which was also addressed to the Mayor of Vancouver. This entrepreneur was going to solve our economic situation in Tumbler Ridge as well provide a solution for Vancouver?s garbage problem. Put it into the empty coal cars returning to TR and dump it in the ?big MT holes at the coal mines?. I replied that while I never turn away a prospective investor I?d like to know if he had done his homework. There were several flaws in his thinking, not the least being the fact that the train went to Prince Rupert. I received an email shortly afterwards which said, ?Sorry, I meant to send this proposal to Sparwood and Fernie.?