Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PoCo sees minor tax-rate increase

Property owners in PoCo will see a pretty minor increase on their tax bills later this spring.
On Monday, PoCo council gave the first three readings to the budget, which includes a property-tax increase of 1.49 per cent, which works out to $29 for the average single-family home (valued at $526,175), $22 for the average townhouse and $13 for the average apartment.
A 3.4-per-cent increase to the solid waste levy adds an additional $6 to the total tax increase for the year.
Broken down, $25 of the increase is going toward financing the cost of a new recreation centre, while the other $4 is being put away for long-term infrastructure funding.
Mayor Greg Moore suggested without the two projects, the city could have offered residents another year without a property tax increase.
However, he said based on feedback from residents, the public is willing to pay extra for a new recreation centre.  
“We felt we had a pretty good indication from our residents that they were wanting to see the rec centre expanded and therefore to see this part of the tax go up for it,” the mayor said.
Last year, the city passed a budget that included a 0.21-per-cent decrease, the first in recent memory.
Moore said he’s hopeful the city can continue to keep tax increases low in the years to come, noting the municipality is looking at ways to do the budget differently in the future that will yield even more savings.  
The budget includes additional spending of $2.76 million on “one-time enhancements” funded by surplus and reserve, including:
• Planning, design and public consultation for the Community Recreation Complex ($1.5 million)
• Roll-out costs for the new bear-proof waste cart locks ($141,000)
• Chafer beetle control on city lands, including the cemetery ($104,200)
• Purchase of a city-owned May Day float, rather than renting one (55,000)
• Start-up costs for a Biz Directory, a searchable listing of licensed businesses ($20,000)
• Development of a mobile app enabling residents to access a range of city services ($15,000)
• Decorative lighting for City Hall exterior, both year-round and for special events ($75,000)
• Personnel to pursue revenue-generation projects ($33,000)
• Start-up costs for the north-side Christmas light display ($40,000)
• Costs associated with demolition and cleanup at the public health building site ($200,000)
• Purchase of additional waste carts and kitchen pails (104,700)
• Renovations at Fire Hall No. 2 ($70,000)
• Power systems upgrade at the RCMP Public Safety Building ($40,900)
Offsetting the expenses are $675,900 in planned savings, including:
• Modifying the funding sources for the RCMP contract to include prior-year surpluses from vacancies ($400,000)
• Absorbing base inflation increase costs into existing budgets ($164,700)
• Reducing maintenance of sports fields that see low community use ($40,700)
• Reducing the Terry Fox Library’s materials budget ($36,700)
• Reducing the human resources legal budget ($23,800) and development services consulting budget ($10,000)
The final adoption of the budget is expected on April 13.

© 2015 Tri-Cities Now - See more at: http://www.thenownews.com/news/poco-sees-minor-tax-rate-increase-1.1803190#sthash.zAHY58yX.dpuf

New sinkhole worries in Port Moody

Could a third sinkhole be forming beneath the ground where the Evergreen Line tunnel is being built in Port Moody?
That’s the concern from residents living in the area after a bulletin was sent out Monday regarding more issues with the tunnel boring machine.
According to the bulletin from EGRT Construction, the group tasked with building the line, the machine is currently under Clarke Road at Seaview Drive as part of regular maintenance that involves inspecting and replacing the cutter head tools before the machine advances.
The bulletin said while maintenance was underway — despite the construction of a subsurface grout wall in front of the machine — some ground material entered the machine’s chamber.
“Crews will be drilling bore holes from the road surface of Clarke Road and Seaview Drive to investigate the grout wall constructed earlier this month,” the bulletin stated. “Additional grout may be injected from the surface to ensure that the grout wall is completely sealed in front of the [machine’s cutter head]. This will allow for the safe completion of the ... maintenance.”
Ground material getting into the tunnel-boring machine  chamber during maintenance was blamed for two sinkholes that opened up along the line last year and in January.
Kerry Lecorre, a Port Moody resident who lives near where the first sinkhole appeared on Chateau Place and has organized meetings among neighbours regarding the issue, suggested material getting into the chamber is not a good sign.
“I really thought after all the precautions they took this time, along from learning what didn’t work the last two times, that they would’ve got it right this time,” she said.
“I imagine the people living in those nearby homes aren’t going to be happy to see the drill machines back on site.”
EGRT Construction noted safety is the first priority on the Evergreen Line project and that precautionary measures are undertaken to ensure the public is safe, adding the work will occur within a secure area.
The bulletin also noted traffic on Clarke Road continues with one lane in each direction, however traffic patterns may change if equipment needs to re-position to different locations.
A spokesperson for the ministry said the contractor is still doing investigative work, pointing out the situation doesn’t necessarily mean a sinkhole will appear.
“Based on preliminary investigations, there is no indication that a hole will form on the surface,” the ministry wrote in an e-mail.
The tunnel portion of the Evergreen Line has recently been plagued with problems, and last month it was announced due to slow progress of the boring work the opening of the line will be delayed to the fall of 2016.

© 2015 Tri-Cities Now - See more at: http://www.thenownews.com/news/new-sinkhole-worries-in-port-moody-1.1803179#sthash.6QotjRR1.dpuf