User fees climb three per cent

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Council passes master rates bylaw

City council gave its unanimous blessing to a three per cent increase to most user fees on Monday night, a move that will generate almost $700,000 for the city in 2013.

Councillors passed motions amending its master rates bylaw, as well as the business licence bylaw, the fire services bylaw, the animal bylaw and the tobacco retail licensing bylaw.

The only rate or user fee different from the three per cent across-the-board increase was brought forward at budget deliberations by Coun. Roger Lemieux on Nov. 20, increasing the cost of a tobacco licence by $100. That change, which Lemieux said he made to encourage people to stop smoking, was passed by the committee of the whole.

“I’m pleased with where it’s at,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse.

The fee increase alone will generate $343,000 for the city. Total new revenue in the 2013 budget is $662,800 once the approved user fee increases are added in.

Like the capital budget, council sees the proposed changes to user fees months before budget meetings actually begin. Any changes are passed by council before the rest of the budget so any new revenue from increases can be officially incorporated into the budget.

“We’ve reviewed the recommendations of administration over the last number of months and as recently as last week made motions about tobacco licensing,” said Coun. Wes Broadhead.

Increases will be applied to almost all user fees and services charged by the city, from business licenses, plumbing permits and lot grading to heating, ventilation and air conditioning permits.

Only penalties under the false alarm bylaw have already been approved. That was done earlier this year when council amended the bylaw to allow the city to fine companies or individuals that repeatedly cause false alarms involving a police response.

“Those are already embedded in the bylaw,” Crouse said.

Part of the changes passed include increases to fees under the current animal bylaw, which is being redrafted and will be debated by council next spring. While council approved some increases to fines under the bylaw, it can revisit the value of fines when it debates the new bylaw next spring.

“If anything comes forward underneath the animal bylaw when we redo it, we would also be required to change (these fines),” said Crouse.

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