2020 Municipal Budget
Each year, the City of Fernie is required by Provincial Legislation to create a formal budget for the revenues (taxation, fees, grants) it collects and how funds are spent to provide services for our community like policing, utilities and snow clearing.
Staff work to provide Council with a balanced budget as required by law, that supports the appropriate management of our assets, providing the services our community expects, and minimizes the impact on taxes and user fees.
Delivering a zero-percent tax increase in 2020 will require temporary service reductions, deferrals and reductions in planned capital spending, and a corresponding reduction in transfers to some reserves for 2020. Details of the 2020 Budget are explained below.
What is included in the 2020 Budget?
Despite the zero-percent tax increase, the City has been able to include many exciting projects and services for our community in 2020 including $7 million scheduled for capital works.
The focus for major projects this year is to:
- Deliver on Council’s Strategic Objectives
- Protect the safety of citizens
- Protect and safeguard critical infrastructure
- Prepare for future investment
Deliver on Council’s Strategic Objectives
- Phase I of a plan to replace Fernie’s aging Fire Hall with a comprehensive Protective Services Facility will be completed in 2020 in alignment with Council’s identified priorities ($120K)
- Using a combination of grant funding ($20K) and tax revenue ($30K) staff are complying with new Provincial reporting requirements and will produce a Housing Needs Report that supports Council and staff in making data-driven decisions regarding housing needs in our community.
- Staff will use internal resources in 2020 to develop the terms of reference for a Climate Action Plan that will add a climate lens to projects moving forward.
Protect the Safety of Citizens
- Work will be undertaken in 2020 on the west bank of the Elk River, below Burma Estates, to stabilize the slope and repair leaks on the primary water transmission main in the City’s drinking water distribution system.
- As the City prepares to take on ownership of Maiden Lake, staff are completing key safety upgrades to the area as well as making other improvements to enhance community use of the area including the additon of new pit toilets.
- The completion of the Snow Policy update will address findings from the snow management pilot project and formalize changes to snow management to improve the safety and efficiency of providing emergency access and moving people and goods through our community.
Protect and Safeguard Critical Infrastructure
- The Ghostrider Commercial Infrastructure Replacement program is a $1.6 million project that will provide the following improvements:
- Paving and upgrading the road cross-section to provide ditching to manage stormwater,
- Channelized site accesses to improve traffic safety,
- Street lighting,
- Replacement of underground water mains,
- Inclusion of a multi-use pathway to connect the area to the municipal multi-modal transportation network through the Visitors Centre and the Fairy Creek Trail.
- Mountview Dike Improvement project is valued at $750k and fully funded through a UBCM grant. It involves extending the dike, raising a portion of the existing dike to flood construction level and closing the gap in protection to key infrastructure like Max Turyk and the James White Wells.
- The purchase of a hot-box trailer for asphalt reclaiming will allow for improvements to our pavement management program and enhance the City’s ability to effectively repair potholes and prolong the lifespan of our road cross-sections.
Prepare for Future Investment
- The City will invest in three critical master planning documents at a total cost of $150K. These include master plans for Parks and Recreation, Arts and Culture, and Facilities. Creating these master plans will ensure future investment is aligned with the community’s goals and will position the City to better leverage funding opportunities from senior levels of government moving forward.
- Staff will complete a pool optimization study ( valued at $10K) to improve the Aquatic Centre operations and programming for the community.
Continued Community Investment
In 2019, the City of Fernie invested $1,256,477 in the community through annual grants, partnership agreements, discretionary grants, RMI funding, and in-kind support services.
This funding allocation has been maintained for 2020. The City will continue to advance work with local community partners in 2020 and is actively working to develop supports for the social, cultural, and economic recovery of our community.
The City's annual revenue comes from a number of different sources, the largest being property taxes.
The City's budget is broken into two types of expenses - Operating and Capital.
The Operating Budget funds our day-to-day operations. These are things like wages for employees, water and sewer services, and the maintenance of equipment and municipal facilities like the Aquatic Centre.
The Capital Budget is made up of one-time purchases, projects, or upgrades and can include expenses for items such as developing new assets and infrastructure, purchasing equipment, and undertaking major planning and design initiatives to support future growth. It also provides for funds that are transferred to reserves to save for future projects.
The 2020 budget includes $25,280,267 in total expenditures:
How did we achieve a zero-percent tax increase?
Staff undertook a number of reviews of both the operating and capital budgets with the goal of identifying opportunities to reduce budgetary requirements and deliver on the mandate from Council.
As with any individual or business, the City faces increased costs for goods and services. This means each year it costs the City more to provide the same services, at the same levels, as the previous year.
Council decided to move forward with the following options for temporarily reducing costs in order to deliver the zero-percent tax increase:
Extended Facility Closures
Achieving a zero-percent tax increase will require the continued closure of all City-owned and operated recreation facilities for a minimum of 3 months. This means that regardless of the COVID-19 situation, municipal recreation facilities will not re-open before July 1, 2020.
Deferral of Capital Projects
Every year, the City plans for capital projects to make improvements to municipal infrastructure, build new infrastructure or purchase equipment to provide City services. For 2020, several Capital Projects have been deferred to provide one-time cost savings and protect financial reserves.
What does the 2020 Budget mean for the average homeowner?
The 2020 Budget includes $25,280,267 in total city expenditures. To fund the budget, the City relies on a number of revenue streams including grants, user fees, investment income and taxation. For 2020, the City must collect $7,018,679 in municipal taxes to balance the budget.
The amount of tax you pay is based on the assessed value of your home (as determined by BC Assessment).
Currently, the average assessed home in Fernie is valued at $510,526.00. The total to be paid on the tax notice for the average assessed home would be $3,631.20.
That total includes taxes the City is required to collect on behalf of other public authorities including the Regional District, Elk Valley Hospital, and the Ministry of Education.
The following is a breakdown of the taxes that would be paid for the average assessed home in Fernie:
Here is a breakdown of how your municipal tax dollars will be spent by the City:
How do we compare?
This is how the City of Fernie taxes compared with those in neighbouring municipalities in 2019:
*Provincial average figures vary slightly from Municipal calculations
Want to learn more?
If you want to go more in-depth into the Five Year Financial plan, you can read the details here: