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Fernie council approves 6.1% tax increase

Fernie City Council has approved the 2024 five-year financial plan, which includes a tax increase of 6.1 per cent.

Mayor Nic Milligan said the increase was necessary to ensure the quality of service remains the same.

“These are always difficult conversations,” he added.

“Many of our costs went up in excess of 15 per cent, but we’ve been able to hold our tax increase this year to 6.1 per cent. I know it’s difficult for some and we certainly respect that, but we have been able to provide quality and consistent services with that increase. I think it’s ultimately a good thing for the community.”

Councillor Kevin McIsaac didn’t think the budget went far enough to address Fernie’s finances.

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“While I support the budget and support the decisions that have been on the table so far, I can not help but remind everyone that we are underfunding our reserves,” he said.

“We are spending them down faster than we are putting money in.”

He said it will just end up costing the city more if they don’t address it soon.

“People are going to pay for that mistake and we are doing this with full knowledge. Every single person is sitting here and knows that this is a fact and we are ignoring it by passing this particular budget,” McIssac added.

“I realize that we are fighting for moderation and finding a middle ground between what’s necessary and what’s affordable. The financial reality is we are kicking the infrastructure cost down the road to the next people who will then pay more.”

The budget was adopted in a 4-3 vote.

Milligan, McIssac and councillors Kyle Hamilton and Troy Nixon voted in favour while Harsh Ramadass, Tracey Audia Kelly and Ted Shoesmith voted against.

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