Pemberton to hand over $24,396 in boundary expansion deal 

Financial contribution settles regional district's concern about taxation impacts

The Village of Pemberton is handing almost $25,000 over to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District to mitigate financial concerns about a proposed boundary expansion.

The concerns date back to 2008, when the regional district engaged Sussex Consultants Ltd. to investigate the implications of the Village incorporating approximately 20 parcels of land into its boundaries that currently lie in Area C of the district, an area adjacent to the Village's municipal boundaries.

If the provincial cabinet approves the expansion through an order-in-council, between $180,000 and $200,000 in property tax revenues will flow through to the Village instead of the province.

The Village will also gain the ability to make land use decisions for those parcels - which includes the Ravens Crest property, where the owner hopes to situate an international private school and a housing development that has met with much resistance among the board of the regional district.

Sussex Consultants investigated the boundary expansion and determined that the regional district stood to lose about $13,000 due to boundary expansion, money it would have to make up by cutting services or raising taxes.

The arrangement, approved at a meeting on Monday, will transfer $24,396 from the Village of Pemberton to the regional district in a single installment in 2012. The arrangement also comes at the behest of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, which wanted the Village to work out financial issues before approving the expansion.

Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy, a steadfast proponent of boundary expansion, had mixed feelings about the transfer.

"If mitigation is required, we might as well resolve it and get on with it," he said. "I'm not really convinced that mitigation is required here. We're talking about the impact, I think it's $5 on a $300,000 assessed value, so it's so insignificant that a minor change to any one of a dozen budgets would just dwarf it in comparison."

Sturdy went on to say that people living in areas adjacent to the Village will actually see a reduction in the cost of fire services of about $28 for a property assessed at $300,000. The reason for this is that payment for fire services is based on the area of fire service as a total assessment in the area.

If the expansion goes forward, there will be properties that were not in a fire service area before that will be incorporated into the Village. Once they belong to the Village, they come into a fire service area and they're added to overall assessed values - which means there will be more properties with assessed values paying the same bill.

"Everybody's taxes for fire services would drop or be reduced," Sturdy said. "It's hard to tell in our component because in the Village, the fire services are just part of our overall budget. They're not a separate budget silo. In the regional district it is a separate silo."

Susie Gimse, the chair of the regional district board of directors, a Village of Pemberton councillor and representative for Area C, has in the past been a critic of the current boundary expansion proposal because she finds it a "piecemeal" approach that doesn't solve some wider issues relating to governance in the valley.

Asked about the current financial arrangement, Gimse said the expansion would likely proceed now.

"You look to the future, and in the future I hope we look at getting the boundary right for the community," she said.



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