Council voted in favour of amending the capital budget to move the Wolf Street and Caribou Street Roadway Improvements Project from 2020 to 2018. The operating budget was amended to add $50,000 in 2018 to support the project, with funds coming from the budget stabilization reserve. Council also voted to increase the project budget from $360,500 to $370,500 to develop a concept design of Wolf Street and Caribou Street, from Banff Avenue to Bear Street. The concept, much like the Bear Street Woonerff, would include amenities such as bike parking, landscaping, public seating and seating areas specific to businesses who hold a sidewalk seating permit. The design is intended to attract pedestrians to the area and to improve pedestrian connectivity between Banff Avenue and Bear Street. Installation is expected sometime this summer.
Council received a briefing on the taxation process and fees. Benchmarking tax and utility fees is one way to put into perspective the Town’s local rates, and their rate of change. In 2016, of the 122 municipalities compared, the Town of Banff was the 26th lowest residentially and 71st lowest non-residentially and the Banff tax rate is below average in both categories. If the Town was to charge the average tax rate for the comparison municipalities it would result in an additional $1.61 million dollars annually in tax revenue with 1.57 million of that attributed to residential. To bring residential rates to average would equate to a 20% tax increase. A comparison of utility rates in 2017 showed Banff as 9th lowest out of 32 municipalities compared on average residential water and sewer bills. The annual residential water and sewer bill with 19 cubic meters of monthly consumption in Banff is $644.40, this is $217.33 or 25% less than the average of comparators.
Council received a briefing on additional means for contributing to the housing reserve, and made a motion asking for an administrative report on options for differential tax rates for bed and breakfasts and home occupations. Considering additional means for contributing to the housing reserve is part of the Community Housing Strategy and council’s four-year strategic priorities. The briefing listed bed and breakfast and home occupations as a potential source for contributing to the housing reserve. These properties are semi-occupied, as they have formally requested some portion of their property to be used for purposes other than residential. Currently there are 66 home occupations and 38 bed and breakfasts in town.
Council received an update on the recreation grounds redevelopment plan. Some highlights include:
- The skatepark opened April 28, though some landscaping is still underway
- The south parking lot expansion was complete in 2017.
- Picnic tables and fire pit upgrades were completed in 2017.
- Planting of a tree wind-break along ball diamonds and skatepark is scheduled for 2019.
- Investigating track removal options. Irrigation and preliminary work undertaken. Completion in2019.
- Repairs to picnic shelters to be done in 2018.
Council received a briefing on the 2017 financial results. The total net surplus in 2017 was $5.6 million. This consists of $5.3 million in amortization expense and a total net addition to restricted reserves of $10.9 million. The year-end unrestricted surplus for 2017 was $348,309. As directed by the Governance and Finance Committee at the April 9 meeting, this surplus was allocated to the general capital reserve. The unrestricted surplus was largely due to the higher than average building and development permit revenues ($256K), and wage and benefits savings beyond the target savings level ($216K).